TBM 37/52: Bet Taxonomy (Roll Your Own)

Quick post this week.

You run a catering business.

You're asked to cater a wedding. Would you use the same process to cater a wedding that you use to cater a corporate picnic? Or a kids birthday party? Or a movie premier?

No! I hope not. Though every wedding could use a clown.

You work on a product team.

Would you use the same process to tackle the following bets profiles?

  1. New persona. Greenfield part of the product. New-to-the-team technologies

  2. Optimizing an existing part of the product. Lots of prior research. Some nagging technical debt. Adoption risk

  3. Fixing some product-wide interaction patterns. High blast radius. Could go very wrong. Not much existing data. Consistency across product areas is important.


But it is crazy how many teams do. They normalize their work into quarters. Set goals at the same interval. Use equal length "sprints". Same meeting cadence. Same process for discovery for each effort. The same people get involved. Kickoffs get structured the same way. Same PRD formats. Same "definition of done". Same review process. Same approach to setting success metrics.

It is tempting, but you have to resist this. How?

On a basic level, you'll need to come up with a categorization scheme for initiatives. Start with the question:

What details about an initiative will dictate how we work, how we make decisions, how we think about risk, and how we think about what progress looks like?

And then identify category specific working agreements.

Importantly, this is not something you should copy from another company. The bet taxonomy should be developed in-house, and might even be product-area specific.

Some potentially interesting tweets from the week: