How much sharpening the axe is enough? 🪓

How much sharpening the axe is enough? 🪓

This is a common question between Tech and Product Leaders.

While talking with James Trunk he shared this metaphor:

"When you spend too long continuously chopping trees, your axe gets blunt, and your cutting slows down.

Spend more time sharpening, and you have little time to cut."

So what's the answer?

Since our environments are not static, the answer must be more dynamic. But if you're constantly adjusting, ongoing conversations get expensive.

💡 One thing I've found that helps:

I call them Tripwires.

How would you tell when you went too far in one direction or the other?

The idea is worrying when you're in the "safe zone."
Trigger a conversation when you trip the wire.

'Ship freely up to 1% of users in a single market'

⌖ Keep going until it:

Generates >5 customer support tickets per day
Uses 65% of total network capacity 
Consumes 33% of your time
5 weeks have passed
Costs 200k USD

🔧 Once triggered, we reassess and decide if we keep pushing or lean more in a new direction.

These enabling constraints help teams cut through the noise of uncertainty and keep moving while having a safety net in case it goes too far.

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PS, it's crucial to separate enabling constraints, which should be somewhat flexible and governing constraints, which are rigid boundaries. Always do this, never do that. 

When your team doesn't know the difference or where they apply, 
they'll break hard rules, thinking they are flexible, and stay clear of guidelines, thinking they are laws.

(Image from Sketchplanations)

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