Notes from Barack Obama's Chief Data Scientist

3 month(s) ago

I've got this tweet liked and the image saved on my desktop, it's a scribbled note from Barrack Obama's Chief Data Scientist that they kept in their notebook every day of that job and I think this is important for anyone solving problems to see.

A piece of notepaper with the White House letter heading on it that has a hand-scribbled note that reads: Dream in years, plan in months, evaluate in weeks, ship daily. Prototype for 1x, Build for 10x, Engineer for 100x. What's required to cut the timeline in half? and What needs to be done to double the impact?

Two of the three sections really stand out to me here:

  1. Dream in years, plan in months, evaluate in weeks, ship daily.

    If you are part of an agile team, you will undoubtedly be planning your quarters with your teams, evaluating your work over weeks, and shipping things daily.

    But, by dreaming in years, you will always have a clear vision of where you want to go and calibrate all those things you do day-to-day. I think this is missing in a lot of places.

    Make sure you take the time to dream and plan for the years ahead, this isn't something you have to do alone you should work with your stakeholders on forming this type of visionary work.

    It may not seem like the most important thing to be doing right not, but you'll be thankful in the long run. Having a clear vision allows you to prioritise what you are going to be working on a lot easier and create cohesion across multiple teams. It also allows me to be proactive in facilitating a workshop to explore an idea, connecting two teams workstreams, or some exploratory research that needs to be done.

  2. What's required to cut the timeline in half? and What needs to be done to double the impact?

    These questions really sparked something when I read them. There are standard questions that I think get asked in product teams all the time "What was the feedback from users?" "How long will this feature take to build?" "What metric are we going to measure?" and these are important questions to ask. But I think we ask the questions on that note a lot less about projects.

    This also got me thinking, what other questions should we be asking that we are not or that we should be asking more often?

I think the thing I liked most about this, it's a card in their notebook and they remind themselves of these things every day. I have created something similar with Notion in my "home page" where I remind my self of questions to be asking, and what that bigger goal is for the projects I'm working on (and myself too).