The Clarity of a Lens
A strong culture allows people to make good decisions quickly and confidently, knowing that everyone in the organization operates under a common set of basic assumptions. But how do we build, communicate, reinforce and adapt it over time? For that I have found the use and discussion of Lenses to be a very powerful system. One the first I introduce to any team is the Lens “Tests-Are-Not-Exams Theorem”.
Like culture, Lenses allow individuals, teams, and entire companies to act quickly when need be, making tactical decisions that advance a common strategy. They have the added advantage of being clearly articulable, which further keeps teammates looking forward and not over their shoulders for permission to make critical choices.
Lenses bring clarity out of ambiguity, speeding the way toward solutions to big problems and small ones. Of course, no single Lens applies to every situation, and not every Lens is a perfect guide to handle a given question. The more Lenses you name, and the more clearly you define them, the better use your team can make of them. The best product managers make the most creative use of the widest array of Lenses.
Every organization should define and discuss its core Lenses and ensure that they are widely understood. This list is not set in stone: it should change and expand over time, and Lenses that appear to conflict with each other should be widely discussed.
Ask yourself: Does your team have a framework for making good decisions without kicking them upstairs? Does your team take time to discuss the different Lenses under which decisions were made?