About Me

Raghuveer Kancherla(@raghu)

Recent

Good job on the personas @viky. Excited to see what comes out of it on the candidate profile page. :fingerscrossed:

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The worried Dino looks like @kundan

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Just before leaving for the day in the old office

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After a few weeks @nivedha should start writing "@here will be working from office on Monday" 😜

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I don't know what our happiness folks are doing but I am seeing more and more customers going out of their way to thank us on support emails - they seem delighted! Not an easy thing to achieve by any means. Great job guys. cc @happiness-team

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Happy birthday Sanju baba!

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What you can learn from VIM...

Disclaimer: This is not a post about which editor is best.

I used VIM for a brief period a few years back for programming in Python. It's main funda is the various modes it has - Edit mode, command mode, visual mode, select mode etc. I think there is a good lesson in how VIM is designed - you can use a similar technique to think.

As a product manager, I interact with business stakeholders, devs, designers, quality analysts etc. Everyone has a different concern. It is very easy to switch context and talk to different people when I think of myself entering a mode :)

It also helps in brainstorming discussions. I (try to) enter a listening mode at the start of a discussion. Once I understand what my colleague is saying, I enter a discussion mode / idea suggestion mode. I was genuinely surprised with the speed with which we got to conclusions. Since I am in a listening mode I am naturally in a more receptive mood. It helps to understand my colleagues point of view completely before judging their opinion or making suggestions.

If you find me unusually quiet during discussions, now you know why.

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A new thinking framework I am experimenting with...

I think there are two ways in which we perceive our work. Task based method and Goal based method.

Task based method:

  • In any conversation, our brain processes the work being asked of us as a list of tasks.
  • There are tasks that are enjoyable or are considered a part of our work and there are tasks that we'd rather avoid.
  • When the task list changes, it leads to discomfort and is usually agitating. "Didn't you ask me to do this just an hour ago? Why don't you think through before hand?" is how we think when that happens.
  • Once the tasks in the list are done, we perceive our work as done. For example, if I am developer, making a feature work in my local environment is the end of my work. Releasing it to customers and making sure the feature is bug free are someone else's tasks.
  • Usually very comfortable with very discrete set of items in the list of tasks.

Goal based method:

  • Usually cannot work on discrete or disconnected things. Need a cohesive goal to work on. We can be a PITA if we don't understand the goal.
  • Focused on achieving the goal. The list of tasks to achieve the goal are incidental.
  • List of tasks involved needn't be listed in our job description. We are usually just interested in accomplishing the goal.
  • When there is new information, we tend to change the tasks automatically. A stakeholder can easily get the impression that we hardly ever do the exact list of tasks asked of us - even if we were given a precise list of tasks to execute.
  • Most conversations with a stakeholder are about what is the goal and not about the list of actions to take.

I personally believe goal based approach to work is far superior given the <ins>right work environment</ins> (an environment where goals are stated). Goal based approach gets us to the desired outcome, there is a lot of scope for us to innovate, it helps us react to new information easily and the sense of achievement is mutual between us and our stakeholders.

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Summary of my learnings from "Don't make me think"

I started reading this book becasue I think a good product manager should have good understanding of engineering and design (apart from customer needs). Coming from an engineering background, I think I have that part covered to the extent necessary. The book largely covered user behavior and their world view. It is upto the reader to figure out how to apply these learnings in their day to day jobs. There were some tips but it wasn't prescriptive. Anyway, here is a summary of my learnings...

  • Usability testing is extremely important. This was covered towards the end of the book but I am moving it to the top of this list due to its importance. It is not rocket science and doing some tests is better than doing nothing at all. If I had to pick one learning to implement from the book, I'd pick this one.
  • Make the product / website self-evident. If you cannot accomplish that, alteast make it self explanatory.
  • People dont read - they scan. They scan for anything that remotely matches what they might be looking for - This is called stisficing.
  • People muddle through - No one reads instructions and they have no intention of learning what you built. They just try to make it work. The key here is get rid of explaining sentences as much as possible - no one reads them anyway.
  • People feel the lack of three things in the web world that they have to come to accept and expect from the physical world.
  • There is no sense of scale of a website / app. In a physical space you can scan across the room and get it easily.
  • There is no sense of direction. In the physical world we have North, South, East and West. On a website there is no such thing - there is no sense of direction
  • No sense of location. In the physical world, I can know that my balcony is in the South east corner. On a website or the app, again this is missing. Good navigation, breadcrumbs and a few other techniques help with filling some of these gaps.

I strongly recommend any product manager to read this book.

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The ice-cream effect

Vinod has subtly introduced a nice concept of asking people to buy an ice-cream when they turn up late for a team meeting or when they forget to do something they promised to do etc. On the ouside it looks like a very simple idea, but it has profound implications...

  • When people don't turn up on time, the team is excited about an ice-cream. Asking for an ice-cream is a very postive way of reminding people that they need to respect other people's time.
  • It not only reminds the person who is late, but also the other members of the team. They know they have to buy an ice-cream if they are late.
  • The result: most people turn up on time for meetings - I find that people try to make it atleast 1 minute before the scheduled time. I never found this adhered to so well in any of my previous companies. In the past, I have seen team managers try to make serious announcements about being on time, giving feedback to individuals who dont respect it etc. This method has a very negative and hierarchial vibe to the whole ritual and people grudgingly follow it. Ice-cream effect on the other hand turns the whole situation into a fun little game that gets the entire team to participate. The best part about it is - it gets the job done much better than any other method I have seen so far!

Good one @vinod.

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Recently I read the book "don't make me think". Very insightful and easy to read.

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Nice work around for displaying cover letter by default instead of the resume - @chelseastroh great job!

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Thanks @robinmaben for a great session on tips to learn better...

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Working smart...

In my first job at ZS, I was easily clocking 16 hours work days - I was working really hard to make my project a success. Many of my colleagues were also working long hours. We would usually go over and beyond what was asked of us to do interesting things.

However, there was one particular guy who would work just about 8 hours a day and would often spend time playing in the recreation area while waiting for us to finish slogging. I thought I was doing great and this guy would get a bad review during the year end review cycle. As you can imagine, I got a big surprise towards the end of the year.

It took me another job and a couple more years to understand why. In my second job (Genpact), it was my turn to enjoy the relaxed work timings. While a lot of my colleagues would be slogging 14 hour work days, I usually finished my work in half a day and had a lot of time on my hands - so much time that I actually published a paper on credit card fraud detection techniques! So what was the difference?

At Genpact, I worked differently. I understood the intent of what my manager wanted to achieve and did exactly what was necessary for it and innovated for it. At ZS, I was often carried away by my own ideas. I would spend a lot of time in doing things that I felt interested in - of course I always justified to myself that I was actually helping the project.

In summary, I think we are usually enamored by our own ideas and interests so much that we justify to ourselves that they contribute to the end effect we set out to achieve. Once you are able to filter your ideas dispassionately, you are going to get a lot more done with a lot less effort.

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Kudos to @gauthamseshadri for a great job on hiring. He originally picked up hiring to use our product and get familiar with it from a user standpoint. He went over and beyond that to actually make hiring happen.

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@viky: just used the redesigned new activity notification on a candidate profile. The design is nice

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Recently I learned

Two interest things...

  1. Apparently galaxies farther away from us are moving away at a faster pace due to the fabric of space time expanding.
  2. Unlike the matter present in the universe the speed at which the fabric of space time can expand is not limited by the speed of light.

When you put both these together, there are interesting results. It looks like galaxies that are very far away from us can actually be moving away from us at a speed faster than the speed of light.

Light emitted from these galaxies will never reach us and we will never receive any information from them. As of today, only 3% of the universe is visible to us. We will never know about the rest and never travel there!

Original article: https://medium.com/starts-with-a-bang/can-the-universe-expand-faster-than-the-speed-of-light-756ccd69b388

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Recently I learned

My current model of product design

Currently I use the following 5 step model of product design. I have been trying for the last couple of months... It seems to be working well so far...

  1. <ins>Customer problem</ins> - Problem that the customer is facing outside the context of a product
  2. <ins>Functional solution</ins> - A generic solution (does not include any sketches) that solves the problem for multiple customers.
  3. <ins>Interaction design</ins> - Detailing the functional design for multiple user personas and scenarios. Also includes design of any interactive elements, user flows, success messages etc.
  4. <ins>Layout design</ins> - Everything to do with optimal space utilisation. Actual placement of web elements, spacing between different elements etc.
  5. <ins>Graphic design</ins> - Choice of colors, fonts and many other aesthetics that I am not aware of.
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