Meekal Bajaj

I write about design, product, and technology. Curious about everything.

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  • Chisels and saws: Tools for improving product quality

    Process · 5 minutes read · Last updated February 16, 2022

    Last year, our team got an urgent message. The experience on one of our key products was receiving a slew of negative user feedback. Could we fix it? Slated to be replaced, the product was largely unowned at the time. As our team started digging into the root cause, we realized there weren’t any silver bullets. What followed was a year of small wins and hard fought lessons on what it means to define and improve quality.

    The quality of our products influence the emotions they evoke. As product builders, we hope that people describe our products as delightful, simple, beautiful, and thoughtful. But quality comes at a cost. We trade off between perfecting the product, against the opportunity cost of adding more value. In a market where the problems to solve are ill-defined, perfection is not always the clear winner.

    How do we balance our pursuit of quality with shipping faster?

    1. Align on the quality bar for launch
    2. Measure, and measure again
    3. Chisel the best products to refine them
    4. Remove the excess
    5. Sharpen our saw
    6. (Bonus) Create incentives that reward improvements at each of these steps
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  • Exponential trends

    Future · 1 minute read · Last updated February 06, 2022

    We are bad at predicting the future from changes that happen exponentially. Exponential growth is deceptive, it starts slowly like the steady change we are familiar with predicting, before becoming explosive. What trends are happening exponentially today that will shape our future?

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  • Saying no at work

    Process · 1 minute read · Last updated February 04, 2022

    Staying curious before committing helps ensure that you are working on the most impactful problems. It ensures that you are not spread too thin as you juggle between too many projects. For me personally, saying no is hard. I get excited about a promising vision and don’t want to hurt other peoples feelings.

    Clarifying questions

    Give yourself cover by asking more questions before committing to new work.

    • What is driving the urgency?
    • To what degree of polish does this need to be completed? By when?
    • If I couldn’t do all of this, but could do just a part, what part would you have me do? Who else is a good fit to ask for help?
    • What do you want me to take off my plate so I can do this?
    • What would be a successful outcome?

    Saying no

    And when you have to say no, find a way to convey that you are saying no to the task, not the person. For example, highlighting that you won’t be able to pick up this task at the moment, but you appreciate them thinking of you and looking forward to collaborating more.

    Adapted from the Coaching Habit.

  • Book review: The Coaching Habit, Michael Stanier

    Review · 6 minutes read · Last updated February 02, 2022

    Even the best athletes have coaches. They help you hone in on where you can get better, give actionable feedback, and hold you accountable. As professionals though, it’s hard to get effective coaching, and harder still to coach others.

    In the Coaching Habit, Stanier makes coaching accessible through 7 questions:

    1. What’s on your mind?
    2. And what else?
    3. What’s the real challenge for you?
    4. What do you want?
    5. How can I help?
    6. If you say yes to do this, what else will you say no to?
    7. What was most useful to you in this discussion?

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  • Practical SQL for Product Builders

    Analytics · 5 minutes read · Last updated April 28, 2019

    You can’t fix what you can’t measure

    Dashboards crystallize impact by aggregating key metrics across adoption, usage, and retention. While off the shelf dashboards work well at the overall product level, I often find myself having to write one-off SQL queries to track these metrics at a feature level.

    The SQL queries I frequently write,

    1. Compare behavior across test and control groups
    2. Track click through rates to measure engagement
    3. Measure daily/weekly/monthly active users for adoption
    4. Track changes over time through cohort analysis
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