Abhi Yerra

Sheepdog: A Framework for Action in Life and Work

Strategy and Product Creation
Lure them with bait, strike them with chaos. - Art of War
 
Instead of transporting slow-moving siege engines and heavy equipment with them, the Mongols carried a faster-moving engineer corps that could build whatever was needed on the spot from available materials.
Genghis Khan recognized that warfare was not a sporting contest or a mere match between rivals; it was a total commitment of one people against another. Victory did not come to the one who played by the rules; it came to the one who made the rules and imposed them on his enemy. By killing the aristocrats, the Mongols essentially decapitated the social system of their enemies and minimized future resistance. -Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World
 
The art of competing, I’d learned from track, was the art of forgetting, and I now reminded myself of that fact. You must forget your limits. You must forget your doubts, your pain, your past. You must forget that internal voice screaming, begging, “Not one more step!” And when it’s not possible to forget it, you must negotiate with it. - Shoe Dog
 
People love it when you give your secrets away, and sometimes, if you’re smart about it, they’ll reward you by buying the things you’re selling. - Steal Like an Artist
 
An organization is not, like an animal, an end in itself, and successful by the mere act of perpetuating the species. An organization is an organ of society and fulfills itself by the contribution it makes to the outside environment. And yet the bigger and apparently more successful an organization gets to be, the more will inside events tend to engage the interests, the energies, and the abilities of the executive to the exclusion of his real tasks and his real effectiveness in the outside. -Effective Executive
 
  • Focus on One Client a Day / Week
  • Don't try to work on multiple clients you won't get anything done. Just focus on one and work on them until you are finished.
  • This allows you to give the most energy and focus but also be the most detailed.
  • It is okay to be the master but delegate the rest
  • Do the high value stuff, but delegate the lower value / more detailed work to others who may be a better fit for it.
  • Value Creation
  • Value Delivery
Notes from Book: Play to Win
(This is copied verbatim)
  • What is a company's winning aspiration?
  • Where should the company play?
  • How should the company play to win?
  • What are company's core capabilities?
  • What are company's management systems that has to be leveraged?
  • Six strategy Traps
  • There is no perfect strategy---no algorithm that can guarantee sustainable competitive advantage in a given industry or business.
  • But there are signals that a company has a particular worrisome strategy. Here are six of the most common strategy traps:
  • The do-it-all strategy: failing to make choices, and making everything a priority. Remember, strategy is choice.
  • The Don Quixote strategy: attacking competitive “walled cities” or taking on the strongest competitor first, head-to-head. Remember, where to play is your choice. Pick somewhere you can have a chance to win.
  • The Waterloo strategy: starting wars on multiple fronts with multiple competitors at the same time. No company can do everything well. If you try to do so, you will do everything weakly.
  • The something-for-everyone strategy: attempting to capture all consumer or channel or geographic or category segments at once. Remember, to create real value, you have to choose to serve some constituents really well and not worry about the others.
  • The dreams-that-never-come-true-strategy: developing high-level aspirations and mission statements that never get translated into concrete where-to-play and how-to-win choices core capabilities, and management systems. Remember that aspirations are not strategy. Strategy is the answer to all five questions in the choice cascade.
  • The program-of-the-month strategy: settling for generic industry strategies, in which all competitors are chasing the same customers, geographies, and segments in the same way. The choice cascade and activity system that supports these choices should be distinctive. The more your choices look like those of your competitors, the less likely you will ever win.
  • These are strategic traps to be aware of as you craft a strategy for your organization. But there are also signs that you have found a winning and defensive strategy. Let’s look at these next.
  • Six Telltale Signs of a Winning Strategy
  • Because the world is so complex, it is hard to tell definitely which results are due to the strategy, which to macro factors, and which to luck. But, there are some common signs that a winning strategy is in place. Look for these, for your own business and among your competitors.
  • An activity system that looks different from any competitor’s system. It means you are attempting to deliver value in a distinctive way.
  • Customers who absolutely adore you and noncustomers who can’t see why anybody would buy from you. This means you have been choiceful.
  • Competitors who make a good profit doing what they are doing. It means your strategy has left where-to-play and how-to-win choices for competitors, who don’t need to attack the heart of your market to survive.
  • More resources to spend on an ongoing basis than competitors have. This means you are winning the value equation and have the biggest margin between price and costs and the best capacity to add spending to take advantage of an opportunity or defend your turf.
  • Competitors who attack one another, not you. It means that you look like the hardest target in the (broadly defined) industry to attack..
  • Customers who look first to you for innovations, new products, and service enhancement to make their lives better. This means that your customers believe that you are uniquely positioned to create value for them.
  • Even companies with these telltale signs shouldn’t rest, because no strategy lasts forever. All companies need to evolve their strategies—to improve, sharpen, and change to stay competitive and, ultimately, to win year after year. Ideally, companies should see strategy as a process rather than a result—adapting existing choices before business and financial results (which are always lagging indicators) start to turn down.
  • All strategy entails risk. But operating in a slow-growing, fast-changing, intensively competitive world without a strategy to guide you is far riskier. Leaders lead, and a good place to start leading is in strategy development for your business. Use the strategic choice cascade, the strategy logic flow, and reverse engineering of strategic choices to craft a winning strategy and sustainable competitive advantage for your organization. Play to win.
  • For your own company, ask (and honestly answer):
  • Have you defined winning, and are you crystal clear about your winning aspiration?
  • Have you decided where you play to win (and just as decisively where you will not play)?
  • Have you determined how, specifically, you will win where you choose to play?
  • Have you pinpointed and built your core capabilities in such a way that they are enable your where-to-play and how-to-win choices?
  • Do your management systems and key measures support your other four strategic choices?
  • The tools and frameworks in this books are designed to help you answer these five questions and to explore the possibilities for your organization. Again, for your organization, have you used the tools to help you think through your potential choices?
  • Have you used the strategy logic flow framework to understand the industry, channel, and customer values, your own relative capability and cost positions, and competitive reactions in a way that can underpin sustainable where-to-play and how-to-win choices?
  • Have you reverse engineered the strategic possibilities and asked what would have to be true to ensure that this possibility is the one that gives you the best chance to win?
  • The strategic choice cascade, the strategic logic flow, and the reverse-engineering process represent a strategic playbook for your organization. Rather than a simple, one way-path, the plays.

Product Creation

Every time a new feature or product was proposed, [Jeff Bezos] decreed that the narrative should take the shape of a mock press release. The goal was to get employees to distill a pitch into its purest essence, to start from something the customer might see—the public announcement—and work backward. Bezos didn’t believe anyone could make a good decision about a feature or a product without knowing precisely how it would be communicated to the world—and what the hallowed customer would make of it. -Everything Store
Companies leverage two basic pulleys of human behavior to increase the likelihood of an action occurring: the ease of performing an action and the psychological motivation to do it.
If you are building a habit-forming product, write down the answers to these questions: What habits does your business model require? What problem are users turning to your product to solve? How do users currently solve that problem and why does it need a solution? How frequently do you expect users to engage with your product? What user behavior do you want to make into a habit?
- Hooked
  • The window of opportunity for tech is pretty small and getting shorter.
  • So need to figure out the waves as they happen. But also how to capture the waves to make money.
  • Beachhead. To find a market first you have to find a beachhead that you can own. Doing that is to simplify your offering and really focus on the one customer that has the most value.
  • You need to find opportunity and exploit that the opportunity
  • Focus on few things and do them well