Notes

  • Do you like LinkedIn's endorsements feature?

    February 26, 2020 by

    I’m preparing for product management interviews. I’ll publish some of my case practice here on the blog. The following is based on a practice question given by Lewis Lin in his book Decode and Conquer. For this exercise, let’s assume that:— I’m applying for a senior-level (equivalent to Google’s L6) product management role at a… Read more

  • Design Scorecard: a framework for giving feedback

    February 24, 2020 by

    This is a framework to use when you’re looking at a proposed solution to a well-defined design problem, and your goal is to provide feedback so that the solution can be improved. A typical scenario would be a design critique meeting in which the designer in charge of a problem is showing recent work and… Read more

  • How to frame a product design problem: the SSUN framework

    February 21, 2020 by

    I’m preparing for product management interviews. Like all PMs I love frameworks, and a fun thing about interview prep is that I get to quickly try out lots of frameworks and even invent new ones where what’s out there isn’t working for me. A popular framework for product design cases is Lewis Lin’s CIRCLES Method.… Read more

  • What's a linchpin?

    February 19, 2020 by

    I always assumed that a linchpin was something like the brooch that holds a cloak together at the chest or neck. Which kinda makes sense given the colloquial usage in which a linchpin is the thing that holds it all together — the sine qua non. But it turns out that a linchpin is something… Read more

  • The ambiguity problem

    February 17, 2020 by

    The ambiguity problem is an obstacle — one of many — to the effective pursuit of truth.  Humans often disagree. Sometimes the disagreers are people who want to agree, and try to agree, but they fail. This happens a lot. John Nerst joked that 82% of the internet is people arguing, and the rest is… Read more

  • Critical thinking and critical feeling

    February 17, 2020 by

    From Eric Weinstein on his podcast episode with Jocko Willink: Just as it’s important to think critically — to evaluate ideas before accepting them as true —, it’s also important to feel critically: to evaluate feelings before accepting the color they put on the world. Also. There are limits to the value that can be… Read more

  • Disambiguating expected likelihood of discrete outcomes

    February 15, 2020 by

    I’ve been writing about disambiguation techniques. Here’s another one. This one applies when the question cannot be disambiguated into a continual variable. Suppose Adam and Bob and a bunch of friends live in a house together. They all enjoy living together and hope to continue for a long time to come. But a complication has… Read more

  • Comparing disambiguated views

    February 12, 2020 by

    I’ve been writing about disambiguation and the high-dimensionality of superficially low-dimensional phenomena like abortion.  The continuum from pro-life to pro-choice can be visualized as a single dimension.  But it’s probably more helpful to think of one’s position on abortion as high-dimensional. It’s composed of your views on questions like “when does life begin?” and “how… Read more

  • Disambiguation is disentangling dimensions

    February 10, 2020 by

    A few days ago I wrote about Eric Weinstein’s discussion of the “middle” position on political issues. He used abortion as an example. We have the terms “pro-life” and “pro-choice”, and most people’s position is probably somewhere in the middle. Weinstein said something interesting about this so-called “middle”.  I don’t think it’s at the middle.… Read more

  • Current solutions to the ambiguity problem

    February 7, 2020 by

    In recent posts I’ve been talking about a gap in our ecosystem of communication tools. My last post used an example from Eric Weinstein to illustrate the problem. Here I want to build on that post by looking in more depth at the current solutions that Weinstein has available to him.  What solutions are available to… Read more

  • The missing tool of the fifth estate

    February 5, 2020 by

    If the three traditional estates of the realm are the clergy, the nobility and the commoners, and the fourth estate is the mainstream media, then we might say, as William Dutton has, that networked individuals enabled by the Internet are the fifth estate.  But the Internet has not provided all of the tools for communication… Read more

  • Precision vs accessibility in natural language

    February 4, 2020 by

    The ambiguity of natural language is often a benefit: it gets us in the right neighborhood with parsimony. And it helps us to caucus around views that may not actually be as similar as our language makes it sound. But one thing ambiguity is not good for is specificity. Sometimes we don’t want the broad,… Read more

  • The high-dimensional middle

    January 31, 2020 by

    From the fourth episode of The Portal, some quotes from Eric Weinstein:  I caucus, if you will, with the pro-choice community, But my real position is: a plague on both your houses. I’m not pro-choice to the extent that I’m willing to call a child four minutes before its birth ‘fetal tissue’. Nor am I… Read more

  • CHUS method > CIRCLES method

    January 22, 2020 by

    Lewis Lin’s CIRCLES method is a popular framework for tackling the type of product design questions that commonly show up in product management interviews. I found the framework helpful as a starting point, but cumbersome in practice. As a result, I created a simplified reformulation that I find superior.  It’s called CHUS — an acronym… Read more

  • The optimal amount of planning

    January 17, 2020 by

    On the wall in an Uber office, painted in bold, confident letters is a General George Patton quote: “A good plan violently executed now is better than a perfect plan executed next week.” In war and startups, I bet Patton is right much of the time. Chaos in the field is high — predictions lose… Read more

  • Work as if you live in the early days of a better world

    December 31, 2019 by

    I just finished reading Semiosis, a novel by Sue Burke, which follows the story of a group of humans colonizing a new planet over the first 100 years. It reads a lot like The Martian — science and survival — but replace The Martian‘s solitude and desolation with community and competition. It’s a deeply hopeful… Read more

  • Keep the channel open

    December 30, 2019 by

    James Clear shared a wonderful quote in his recent post. This is Agnes de Mille, an American choreographer, recalling what her friend and mentor, the legendary dancer and choreographer Martha Graham, had to say when de Mille asked Graham why a piece of her work that she considered merely mediocre had received so much attention… Read more

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