Building the Decision-Making Habit by Benjamin Keyser "Product people - Product managers, product designers, UX designers, UX researchers, Business analysts, developers, makers & entrepreneurs May 05 2021 True Decision Making, ProductTank, Mind the Product Mind the Product Ltd 459 Building decision-making habits by Benjamin Keyser at ProductTank Berlin Product Management 1.836

Building the Decision-Making Habit by Benjamin Keyser


In this ProductTank Berlin talk, Benjamin Keyser, VP Product at Contentful, explains the importance of decision-making in taking a company from the startup stage to the scale-up stage.

The key points of his talk include:

  • Consequences of poor decisions
  • Decisions during the startup period
  • Decision styles
  • More effect and less affect

Watch the video to see Benjamin’s talk in full or read on for an overview.

Consequences of poor decisions

Benjamin explains that startups typically fail for two reasons, a lack of product-market fit or an inability to get teams to relate to each other. These problems can occur as a result of poor decision-making. Poor decisions can lead to wrong investments that waste time and money, erode teamwork, and lead to a lack of accountability, which erodes teamwork.

Decisions during startup period

For companies and product managers in startup mode, the goal is to keep your head above water. This means acquiring customers, keeping those customers, and making money. During this startup period, the decision-making process is crucial for those that want to achieve growth. Teamwork is essential at this stage, but a large customer base can lead to recency bias and create an oversized influence when making decisions. Also, some product managers may find themselves cherry-picking anecdotes instead of valuable data. When under stress, teams may even find themselves only leaving that decision up to the leader – for better or worse.

Decision styles

Benjamin highlights a few typical decision styles that are prevalent in startups. These include leaving it up to the leader, which can sometimes lead to ineffectiveness creeping in, agree to agree, which can lead to decision recycling and slow process, and we’re agile, which can result in just kicking the can down the road with the expectation that you can pivot later.

To avoid these problems, Benjamin explains that product managers must acknowledge that they need to utilize decision-making practices, get into the habit of making decisions and think of decision making as a journey and not a quick fix.

More effect and less affect

Finally, Benjamin provides some tips for making better decisions.

  • Acknowledge the current decision-making style.
  • Start a conversation with leaders about decision-making as a practice.
  • Avoid discussions about individuals and styles. Instead, shift from the people to their role and use that to help make more objective decisions.

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