The Theory Log Habit
When it comes to your product and your customers, what are you paying attention to?
As product people we are pulled in a million different directions. Our attention span is short and lots of people want our attention. So, who and what are you giving your attention?
If you can answer that question with absolute clarity and intentionality, your product work will become a lot easier.
The habit of attention and observation is a keystone habit as a product leader.
The simplest approach I have found to being intentional about your attention is the theory log.
The Theory Log Habit
The theory log is a two component system of things you need to pay attention to and the theories you have about those things.
As product managers, we need to be paying attention to your customers.
More specifically we need to be observing them both in our product and outside our product.
Here are two steps to create a theory log:
Step 1 — Observation Points
Start by making a list of the places that you can observe your customers behavior. For example:
- Onboarding funnel
- User forums
- Product reviews
- Customer support tickets
Now that you have your observation points, you need to do the observing.
Step 2 — Observation Theory
Pick one of your observation points and take 15 minutes to do a little lurking. What do you observe? What are the forces at work? What’s pulling people in different directions? What contradictions do you see?
Write these down in your theory log. Make note of any observations that don’t match with related observations.
- Podcasters get lots of guest requests BUT those requests are poor matches for their audience
- Product teams want to move faster BUT they don’t invest in fixing the friction in their team
Become a student of your customers
Make a plan for when and where you are going to observe your customs and make note of the theories you discover.
Here are four steps to help you do that:
- Download this theory log habit builder.
- Set aside 15 minutes to make a list of observation points
- Set aside 15 minutes to make the observations
- Write down 3 theories that you discover
Make this a daily routine and you will forever find opportunities to serve your customers.