AI’s 5 Vectors of Innovation
+ Handling Conflict as a PM
In Today’s Newsletter:
Tech: AI’s 5 Vectors of Innovation
Careers: Reduce Context Switching
Paid: Handling Conflict as a PM
The 5 Vectors of Innovation in AI
ChatGPT is not the only game in town.
With the monumental leap that is chatbots powered by LLMs, many industry observers forget that text and code aren’t the only currently explosive vectors of innovation in AI.
There’s actually a total of 5 vectors of innovation that are currently seeing exponential progress in AI:
Images: led by Midjourney
Videos: led by Runway and LumaLabs (deep dive upcoming)
Computer Vision: led by Meta
Code: led by Code Interpreter and AutoGPT
All these different vectors of AI innovation are multiplying the possibilities. So as product builders and techies, we can’t just think about text. Think about all 5 vectors of innovation, and which are the best fit to incorporate into your product.
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Reduce Context Switching
Imagine you’re working on a big project. You’re in the zone, making progress, feeling good.
Then, you get a notification on your phone. It’s an email from your boss, asking you to join a meeting in 10 minutes. You sigh and put down your work. You join the meeting and try to pay attention, but your mind keeps wandering back to your project.
You check your phone again and see another notification. It’s a message from your colleague, asking you for feedback on a document. You open the document and skim through it. It’s related to another project that you’re involved in. You reply to your colleague and close the document.
You switch back to the meeting and realize you missed half of what was said. You ask someone to repeat the last point. They look annoyed and do so. You nod and pretend you understand.
The meeting ends and you go back to your project. But now, you can’t remember where you left off. You spend a few minutes trying to recall what you were doing. You finally get back into the flow, but then you hear a ping. It’s another notification.
Does this sound familiar? You’re not alone. This is modern work: full of context switching.
Context switching might seem harmless, it is actually destroying your productivity.
Why? Because every time time you switch tasks, your brain has to stop and start over. This takes time and energy. A study by the University of California, Irvine found that it takes about 25 minutes to get back into the flow state after being interrupted. That means that if you’re interrupted every 15 minutes, you’re only spending about 25% of your time actually being productive. 🤯
But that’s not all. Context switching also has other negative effects on your work quality and well-being:
It increases your stress, making you less happy.
It depletes your focus, making you less efficient and effective.
It lowers your IQ by 10 points or more, making you less smart.
It reduces your attention to detail, making you more prone to mistakes.
So how can you avoid context switching and get more done in less time?
Batch tasks: Group similar tasks and accomplish them in one go. This reduces switches and maintains your mental mode.
Use the Pomodoro technique: Work for 25 minutes, then take a 5-minute break. After four cycles, take a longer break. This strategy allows you to batch distractions into breaks and prevent fatigue.
Limit meetings: We all get invited to too many. Attend only essential meetings, and schedule them together to preserve blocks of productivity hours.
Automate or outsource: Non-creative yet necessary tasks like data entry consume valuable time and attention. Automate or outsource them using tools like Zapier, IFTTT, or Fiverr.
Create a distraction-free environment: Turn off notifications, close irrelevant tabs, use headphones or earplugs, and find a quiet workspace.
By doing more of these than you were yesterday, you can minimize the impact of context switching on your productivity. You’ll be able to focus better, produce better work, and be happier, while you’re at it.
I hope you enjoyed those two mini-pieces this week. Onto the deep dive.
Handling Conflict as a PM/ Product Leader
One of the least discussed areas in product management is conflict. But it happens regularly in this job:
Perhaps PM & EM disagree on what the team should be building
Or two Product directors teams aren’t playing well with each other
Or a new Head of Sales has a different attitude towards product commitments than the head of Product
These types of conflicts are everywhere in PM. In fact, I’d go so far as to say handling conflict well is part of the job. Conflicts are inevitably going to arise if you’re building ambitious features
So where you do start?
Luckily, there’s a ton of great content on conflict. The trouble is: finding the right stuff to focus on! So, I went through all the conflict literature for you.
One of my favorites was in Roman Pichler’s, “How to Lead in Product Management.”
Because of that, I reached out to him to work on a deep dive for you all.
To my luck, he agreed. As a result, today we are bringing you a tactical deep dive into how to solve conflict as a PM. We’ll go through:
The easiest pitfalls to fall into as a PM
A method to structure the ‘big’ conversation
And when to consider escalation
Let’s get into it.
To keep it tactical, let’s buckle up and talk through a specific scenario.
You, the head of product, find yourself in another tense meeting. A promise had been made to a client, one you hadn't known about until the meeting started. A new feature, a big one, sold before it was even conceived. It wasn't the first time. The new Chief Revenue Officer, Ben, had a habit of promising the moon to secure deals, expecting product to deliver.
Three months back, Ben had seemed like the answer to the company's prayers. An industry veteran with a silver tongue, he had a knack for closing deals that left everyone in awe. His arrival was supposed to be the start of a new era for the company. But now, you were beginning to see the cracks in his glossy veneer.
Ben saw product as a supporting actor, a doormat to wipe his selling shoes on. He would weave dreams for customers, toss them onto your lap, and leave you scrambling to deliver. Product wasn't a doormat; it was the engine that drove the company. But Ben didn't see that.
You had weathered the storm, tried to keep up with Ben's impossible promises. But it was becoming clear that this was a recipe for burnout and disappointment. The product team was stressed, morale was dwindling, and you knew something had to change.
What do you do in this situation? The easiest thing to do is something wrong…
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