Notes on Erik Larson’s 7 Decision-Making Hacks for Product Mgrs

(Posted 7/18/17 to Cloverpop’s blog)

A recent training survey by Mind the Product found PM’s major challenges centered around stakeholder communication/getting buy-in, alignment issues, keeping teams on the same page

Erik’s details 7 behavioral science hacks to help drive better and faster product decisions

  1. Align product and company goals—Seems obvious but often overlooked
    • Helps connect upcoming work with big goals and important outcomes
    • Widens decision making criteria and avoids rationalizing decisions after the fact
  2. Expand the options—Don’t just select from A & B!
    • Cloverpop research found if you consider 4 options, you’ll have a 56% better chance of a better solution
    • You’ll also cut risk of missed expectations by more than half
  3. Include more diverse folks—Their research also suggests having more than 3 people involved results in better decisions 75% of the time
    • You’re after more perspectives, not everyone has to cast a vote on the decision
    • Diversity helps reduce bias and can encourage more buy-in
    • Hearing multiple perspectives can help HIPPOs accept solutions other than their own
    • But keep the group under 6
  4. Make smaller decisions more often—with less at stake, decisions can be made more quickly and with less risk
    • It also encourages testing hypotheses and using that info in future decisions
  5. Use a clear structured process—Define and share the decision making process. It can be simple (like this HBR checklist), or you can use a platform like Cloverpop
  6. Be transparent—Cloverpop offers a decision log template to keep track of what was considered, what was decided, who participated and what the reasoning was. Make to doc available to all. This can also mitigate “misremembering” or reopening closed topics for debate
  7. Track & measure—Keep clear records as you track, measure and assess decisions’ outcomes. You need a decision-making roadmap as robust as a product roadmap

FYI, from the post: This article was co-authored with Jill Soley, a product management and marketing executive and consultant working in Silicon Valley.

About Erik (from the co site): I am the founder of, an app for decision-driven work. I’m also an Illinois farm boy turned MIT rocket scientist, Harvard MBA and decorated U.S. Air Force Captain who ended up part of the Silicon Valley tech revolution. After 15 years building businesses for Macromedia and Adobe, I decided to found my own. Cloverpop is a product of my desire for people to be happy at work, passion for building great products and curiosity about how our brains create our minds, our minds perceive our world, and our world becomes what we decide. Building Cloverpop, I’ve been immersed in the science of decision making, performing hundreds of experiments with researchers at Stanford and elsewhere to understand–and fix–decision making at work. Our research has been published in Harvard Business Review, and I’m a frequent speaker and writer on both entrepreneurial leadership and the business impact of behavioral science.


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