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Break it down

When we encounter a problem with any of our products, the first thing we do is to try and break it down. Let's say there's an outage of our app. We'll look for information on whether there are a specific set of users who are affected - maybe all users that downloaded the latest update, or all users from a specific city, or all users using a certain kind of phone.

This enables to narrow down specific problems and then address anything that needs to be addressed.

Getting better at something requires similar rigour.

We can't just say that we want to get better at writing, or at stand-up comedy, or at playing Chess, or at being a Product Manager, or at being an entrepreneur. Each of those things are complex composites that need further breaking down to drive focus.

In writing, one can get better at outlining characters, at grammar, at creating story-lines, and so on. In stand-up comedy, one can get better at crowd work, stage presence, handling hostile crowds, writing jokes, and so on. In product management, one can get better at developing roadmaps, in understanding user problems, in validating hypotheses, in working with engineering teams and so on.

When looking at something as one big blob, it is hard to understand where improvements can be made.

So, when you're stuck and are unable to make progress, break it down.

Break it down until you have something at hand that is small enough and narrow enough in focus to allow you to make progress.

Break it down to unblock yourself.

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