"The Looking Glass: the biggest reasons I failed to influence" + "5 Visual Design Principles for Product Managers - Department of Product"

Aviral Vaid

Hatched by Aviral Vaid

May 30, 2024

3 min read


"The Looking Glass: the biggest reasons I failed to influence" + "5 Visual Design Principles for Product Managers - Department of Product"

In the ever-changing landscape of business, the ability to influence others is a skill that can make or break your success. Whether you're a manager trying to rally your team behind a new idea or a product manager designing a user-friendly interface, the need to influence is a constant presence in our professional lives. However, it's not always easy to get others on board with our ideas, and understanding why we fail to influence is crucial for growth and improvement.

One of the key reasons for failing to influence is the lack of a compelling story. Just being right is not enough; you need to be able to tell people why they should agree with you. Great managers understand the power of storytelling and know how to weave a narrative that resonates with others. By creating a story that is easy to retell, you increase the chances of your ideas spreading and gaining traction.

Another reason for failing to influence is the failure to recognize that good ideas can come from anyone. It's important to remember that great ideas can originate from clients, salespeople, team members, advisors, or even other companies. By acknowledging and incorporating these ideas into your own thinking, you not only foster a culture of collaboration but also increase the chances of finding innovative solutions. Future trust and collective learning are built upon reflecting on past bets that didn't work and incorporating diverse perspectives.

To effectively influence others, it's essential to adopt the right mindset for the situation. The advisor mindset focuses on influencing others by shaping their frameworks and principles for decision-making. On the other hand, the solver mindset aims to prove the positive impact of a particular decision. Understanding when to use each mindset is crucial for impactful influence. For managers, it's recommended to aim for an 80%+ advisor mindset with your reports, empowering them to make decisions rather than removing decision-making from their hands. Reports, on the other hand, should aim for an 80%+ solver's mindset with their managers, reducing the decision burden for them.

In the realm of product management, visual design plays a significant role in influencing user behavior and enhancing the overall user experience. When building new landing pages or designing new features, it's important to establish the hierarchy of each element. By agreeing on what's important, you can ensure that your design effectively communicates the intended message. Using high contrast during workshops, presentations, or whiteboard sessions can help illuminate key points and draw attention to important information.

The proximity principle is another visual design principle that product managers should consider. By color coding elements on a page, you can easily assess if you're applying the proximity principle effectively. Listing out various categories and color coding elements based on their user-related tasks can help group similar tasks together, making it easier for users to navigate and engage with the core product tasks. This approach enhances the user experience and increases the likelihood of users achieving their goals within the product.

In conclusion, the ability to influence others is a critical skill in both leadership and product management. By understanding the reasons why we fail to influence, we can take steps to improve our approach and increase our chances of success. Incorporating storytelling, embracing diverse perspectives, and adopting the right mindset are actionable steps that can be taken to enhance our influence. Additionally, incorporating visual design principles into our product management processes can greatly impact user behavior and overall user experience. By prioritizing important elements, incorporating high contrast, and applying the proximity principle, we can create user-friendly designs that effectively communicate our intended message. So, let's embrace the looking glass, reflect on our past failures, and strive for greater influence in our professional lives.

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