Meekal Bajaj

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

  • I read every letter Amazon sent to their shareholders. Here are the 40 things I learnt.

    Review · 23 minutes read · Last updated August 15, 2018

    I spent last week reading Amazon’s letter to it’s shareholders. It’s remarkable that in 20+ years of business how little Amazon’s core focus has changed. Every year’s letter reinforces the beliefs laid out in their original 1997 letter, tempered with the maturity and pragmatism that comes from years of shipping. The beliefs that stood the test of time are:

    • Customer obsession
    • Focus on investing in durable businesses
    • Systems thinking that emphasizes creating positive feedback loops
    • Culture of operational excellence
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  • The successful PM/EM relationship

    Product · 1 minute read · Last updated August 14, 2018

    The outcome of a successful relationship between a Product Manager and an Engineering Manager is a motivated team shipping a valuable product. Success demands the two work in concert. Insipid problems don’t inspire talented teams, and unqualified teams don’t ship valuable products. There is also a healthy tension between the two roles. Focus on product alone and you get burn out. Oversteer the other way and the product lacks direction.

    The health of the relationship between a PM and EM can be evaluated through how well the team is able to:

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  • Conducting better user research: A guide for Product Managers

    Design · 6 minutes read · Last updated August 10, 2018

    We do research to bridge the knowledge gap between reality and our model of it. Without writing a single line of code, user research sessions rapidly generate a lot of insights. However, running a research session is hard, we are distilling insights from anecdotes shared by imperfect historians. To get meaningful data in a short amount of time, we need two things in our arsenal:

    1. Questions to uncover the problem
    2. Tactics to keep the conversation focused
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  • Scaling yourself

    Product · 7 minutes read · Last updated June 21, 2018

    Last year I found myself hitting a personal limit on how much work I could execute on simultaneously. At one time, I was concurrently leading 3 new product lines as a Product Manager, filling in as a designer, and acting as a hiring manager. Ill-equipped to scale with the sudden increase in responsibilities, I started to see the quality of my work plummet. Working harder didn’t help, there were not enough hours in the day to go around. To put it mildly, I needed a new system.

    It took a combination of learning to delegate and prioritizing to get past that stage. That’s not surprising. But like most lessons from the school of hard knocks, the lessons are obvious, how to execute them isn’t. 

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  • Building a design culture

    Opinion · 1 minute read · Last updated September 04, 2014

    Design is everyone’s responsibility. Designers may be the practitioners that give an idea it’s first expression, but a well designed product is forged by many critical eyes. A good design culture finds a way to give a voice to everyone—as a critic, a proponent, or a practitioner. It’s our job to build cultures of:

    • Critique
      A culture of critique is one where people can recognize when something feels wrong. They may not have the words to express what it is, but they are able to raise a flag when there is a concern. It’s the first step to becoming sensitive to design.

    • Rhetoric
      A design rhetoric culture is one in which people can not only identify that something is wrong, but can articulate what it is. It’s one where people have a shared vocabulary to describe what’s wrong and value the benefit that design might bring to the process.

    • Literacy
      In a design literate culture individuals have the skills and tools to design solutions. It’s a culture where people know how to use the design process to uncover problems, and the expressiveness to convey their solutions.