This page contains a list of lenses through which we look at the problems we want to solve, the people we want to hire and the objectives we want to reach. A lens has two distinct attributes that are valuable for any organization: it provides focus and has the ability to make you see things differently.
The most important lens is understanding what the jobs to be done of our customers are. If we succeed at enabling them to get their jobs done, we’ll win and be well on our way to realizing our mission. This requires being able to look through the eyes of potential customers and ask our existing customers the right questions.
What not to work on?
Organizations spend a lot of time formulating what everyone will be working on. Somewhere in there it’s implicit what will not be worked on. But implicit means people make assumptions and end up having the wrong expectations. Whenever choosing what to work on, have the reflex to choose what not to work on as well.
How big can it get?
At any point in time there are way too many things we could be working on. But should we be working on them? To help us decide this, ask the following question: if this works, how big can it get?
Where’s the bottleneck?
There's always one bottleneck somewhere in the company that's constraining growth. Isolating what those bottlenecks are and making sure that we're executing against removing them is crucial to make our ship sail faster.
A bottleneck is either holding Awell’s growth back, or the growth of our customers. In other words, if something is blocking our customers to realize more value with our platform then that is a bottleneck as well. We should be vigilant about identifying bottlenecks on a day to day basis and we formalize them once every quarter when formulating our objectives.
Start with the end in mind
Documented over and over again, the lens of first looking at the end result and then charting your path to that vision has proven to be one of the most powerful ways to achieve ambitious goals. We use this lens in multiple places at Awell:
Formulating our mission and vision are end states and should be there before we formulate strategy or anything related to day to day.
Writing a future press release before writing a single line of code transports our mind into the state where the product feature is used by our customers and they have experienced the value of the feature.
Other lenses like “How big can it get?” also start from this ideal end state.
How can we make the ship sail faster?
If an organization is like a ship, over time barnacles and debris get attached to the ship’s hull while it’s sailing. This is causing the ship to sail slower or to need more energy to sail as fast as when it was brand new. Red tape, unnecessary process, in-person discussions for decisions that should be run asynchronously are all examples of barnacles that should be removed.
What’s our most risky assumption?
The best way to predict the future is to invent it. But while we are busy inventing the future, we're making assumptions. Knowing our most risky assumptions upfront is not only crucial to help us steer clear of icebergs but it increases our chance for learning.
Are we going uphill or downhill?
The hill chart is a powerful tool described in Shape Up to assess where we are in the product development process but it can be applied to many other aspects of an organization. We even use it to evaluate how customers are onboarding in our platform and to provide visibility on where we are in a fundraising process.
Concave or convex position?
Sometimes, you need to shoot for an extreme on the spectrum. Where the middle is the place of mediocrity and you get to collect a lot of punches. Other times, the middle is exactly where you want to be. When making large scale decisions, the convex or concave nature of the solutions space matters on where you’d like to go.
Lenses for hiring
When evaluating a candidate we should strive to look at the person from as many different angles as possible. Why? We will get to know that person from all angles once they join our team, and then it’s too late. Being able to look from different angles upfront allows us to anticipate who will be a great fit to join us at Awell.