Category Archives: Clarity of Thought

No Starving Children? The Shocking Truth About Prioritization.

Prioritization means making decisions that focus energy and resources on a few things that are at the top of the list, and starving things that are lower in the list. The most important aspect of prioritization is the concept of starvation. In the context of prioritization, starvation refers to the lack of attention or resources given to tasks lower down on the priority list. By definition, as we allocate more resources to higher-priority tasks, lower-priority tasks …Continue reading

Don’t Sell Ideas – Debate Them

The practice of selling ideas in meetings can lead to misalignment and superficial agreement. When the focus is on persuasion rather than understanding, team members may agree without fully grasping the implications or having their concerns addressed. This superficial agreement will lead to problems down the line when the complexities of the idea come to light during implementation. If the presenter’s goal is to get buy-in for an idea, dissenting voices may be silenced or …Continue reading

The Secret to Delivering Outsized Results

In 35+ years of building companies and organizations in multiple industries, I’ve concluded most leadership books are great examples of survivorship bias. I’ve learned a lot from many of these books. But none of them really clued me into the secret of what distinguishes teams that consistently deliver outsized results from teams that are just mediocre. So what’s the secret? Principles. Principled leaders have a set of strongly held beliefs in the how (vs the …Continue reading

Announcing Kindel Leadership Development

In 2020 started hosting my Free and Open Office Hours as a way to give back and meet more people in the space industry. As I became useful to those in the space industry and gained expertise in the space domain I discovered how fulfilling helping multiple companies with leadership development was. To that end, I have pivoted and made Kindel Leadership Development my primary focus. Hire me for Learn more and get started here: …Continue reading

Biases and Fallacies Lead to Smol Thinking

All human beings are prone to cognitive biases and fallacies that influence our thinking and decision-making processes. These biases and fallacies can be sneaky and hard to detect, but it’s important that we are aware of them and try to minimize their impact on our lives. By being mindful of our biases, we can expand our thinking and consider new perspectives and possibilities. One way to do this is by looking beyond our own planet …Continue reading

Make the Routine, Routine – Blow up Dunbar’s Number

As fast-growing organizations approach Dumbar’s number, they either become forever mediocre or they adapt and become excellent at scaling (in addition to being excellent at delivering customer value). The key differentiator is making the routine, routine by implementing cadence-based mechanisms, which I call Routines.Continue reading

Breaking Down Innovation & Invention

A friend recently asked me if I had a Lexicon & Taxonomy for Innovation and Invention. While I do, I realized I’ve never written it down. Here’s my first stab; using the Customer, Business, Organization, and Technology (CBTO) mental model. What do you think? Lexicon: Taxonomy: This lexicon and taxonomy of innovation and invention provide a mental model for understanding and categorizing different types of innovative ideas and approaches. However, simply having innovative ideas is …Continue reading

Virtuous Cycles, Platforms, Flywheels, Snowballs, and Tidal Waves

I’m working on writing down my thoughts on space. I’ve learned a ton since deciding space would be my next mission. Some pretty clear thoughts are forming, and whenever that happens, I’ve trained myself to write, write, and write to really solidify things. Space is big. In fact, it is, literally, the largest domain. Given the vastness of the domain, I need to formulate a Taxonomy and Lexicon that resonates to gain clarity. I’m a …Continue reading

From Servers, Phones, and Voice Assistants to Space…

Last week I joined my good friend  Den Delimarsky and his colleague Courtny Cotten hosted me on The Work Item podcast. “In this episode, we dive a bit deeper into Charlie’s approach to product ideation and design, discuss the importance of having a principled organization, and ask questions about his most recent adventure around space.” Czech it out here (I love that the transcript is available along with the audio): From Servers, Phones, and Voice Assistants to …Continue reading

Find the Crux by Debating Excellence

No, don’t debate excellence; become excellent at debating. “It is better to debate a decision without settling it than settling a decision without debating it.” – Joseph Joubert Vigorous debate is critical to clear thinking in an organization. Debates garner the full intelligence of an organization. For decisions of great import, rigorous debate depersonalizes the decision. People are predisposed to focus on symptoms or minutia. Arguing over extraneous details is inefficient and is often the …Continue reading

How to be a Secret Agent (of Change)

Great leaders don’t let changes happen to them. Instead, they become skilled at driving change. Leaders effective in driving change are known as agents of change or change agents. This post documents a tool called D x V x F > R that will enable you to become a great agent of change.Continue reading

Do Your Job – Don’t Use Placeholder Text

If you are a UX designer, Software Developer, or Product Manager, and you use placeholder text anywhere but where it’s impossible to know what the content will be (user supplied) then you are doing it wrong. And you are not doing your job. I learned this from @joebelfiore: Using placeholder text defers decision making. It’s a cop-out by the person using it and gives reviewers an excuse to also not debate what’s right. It’s far …Continue reading

Open Office Hours with Charlie

Last month I offered “office hours” to anyone who wanted to chat with me. It was an experiment to see a) if interesting people would reach out, b) if I could be useful to these people, and c) if I’d be exposed to domains where I could spend more of my time in the future. All three hypotheses have turned out true. Thank you to all of you who utilized this so far! I still …Continue reading

Mechanisms

Mechanisms are complete processes built around a tool, owned by a leader that gets adopted broadly and regularly inspected and improved to ensure things get done, not because everyone has good intentions, but because the mechanism’s elements structurally force the desired behavior. “Good intentions never work, you need good mechanisms to make anything happen.” — Jeff Bezos I’ve written previously about how Good Intentions are Never Enough and why mechanisms are needed, but I didn’t go deep into how to make mechanisms actually work. …Continue reading

Path To Green

A Path To Green (PTG) is a clear, crisp, and complete statement describing a team’s plan for getting a project or task from red or yellow status to green. Organizations that routinely deliver results on time hold individuals and teams accountable for delivering those results. Ensuring everyone is clear on the status of deliverables is key to this. More importantly, teams need to have discipline around how they move projects that are a bit off the …Continue reading

Tenets

Tenets are a few carefully articulated guiding principles for any endeavor. They act as a guide to align on a vision and simplify decision-making. Tenets are the written-down rules that distinguish good behavior from behavior that is not welcome. Tenets simplify and help with being right more often; they can be used as tiebreakers when making tough judgment calls. There is no better way to expose misalignment, and then get aligned, than going through the …Continue reading

Have Specific Conversations, not General Conversations

If you are discussing a topic with colleagues, it’s almost always better to have a specific conversation instead of a general conversation. General Conversation Specific Conversation “We need to figure out how to scrub all open bugs.” Followed by a lot of non-specific debate… “There are 42 open bugs. 42 bugs fit on one screen in Excel. Lets look at them all right now and see if there’s a pattern.” “Customers are angry. We need …Continue reading

Taxonomy and Lexicon

How many times have you been in a heated discussion only to find out that the two sides were talking past each other because they were reading from two different dictionaries? I bet you can also remember situations where just a little more structure got everyone aligned quicker. Creating, explaining, and re-enforcing a strong Taxonomy and Lexicon is a critical skill for all leaders (reminder: everyone in our business is a leader, not just managers). Taxonomy …Continue reading

One-Way and Two-Way Doors

Effective decision-making starts with understanding; in the long-term, very, very few things actually matter. The vast majority of the decisions made day-to-day are either minutia or easily reversible and can be made quickly. However, a small number of things (about 1 in 10) matter a lot (in the long term) and are worthy of serious pondering, discussion, investigation, investment, and decision making. A mentor (Chris Jones) introduced me to the pithy phrase 90% of the decisions you make don’t …Continue reading

Mental Models

A secret to clear thinking and decision-making is to learn, invent, and adopt mental models. You’ve probably noticed effective leaders can frame complex ideas simply. They’ll lead conversations like this: “Well, I think there are three things we should focus on and they are…” “Folks, I think there’s another way of looking at this problem. What if we viewed the problem through these four lenses…” The key to simplifying the complex is to be intentional …Continue reading