Notes on The Trust Battery — The Knowledge Project — Tobi Lütke Shopify.

Notes

If you want to get good at something, you can get good by doing a simpler version of it, many many many times.
– Working at a high growth company is like being at a different company every year.
– Primary markets are not secondary markets — you can’t just take lessons from one and apply them to another.
– Geographical Areas have a limit to how many successful companies they can support.
– When hiring in a secondary market, you should hire someone for who they can become, not who they are.
– This means you also need to structure your system to support learning like that.
– We are in an era of complex problems, the complicated ones have all been solved.
– Make it easy for people to do the things you want them to do.
– Employees need to understand what it means to work in a culture of change.
– Build empathy for your team members as well. (1 month remote working)
– Takes a lot of time for people to learn how to work together. Look for ways to circumvent this. (manager.readme)
– Systems thinking — if something is bad and you want to change it, there’s usually something that reinforces that bad decision and you have to change that too.
– Need to look after your own personal growth so you don’t become the bottleneck of your own company.
– your skill at decision making is directly related to your skill in gathering information.
– Keeps a simple log with the decisions he made and the main reasons why — 1/2 a year later he revisits that.
– If your job is to make decisions, it’s worth it to make sure that you get better at it.

Thoughts

Personal growth and leadership
I can’t help but be a little jealous of Tobi. He very much reflects the kind of individual I want to be. In the ways that he thinks, the ways in which he approaches processes, self growth, habits, working with others, and leading.


I found Tobi’s views on how hiring in secondary markets differs greatly from hiring in Primary markets particularly interesting. When you work in a place like Silicon Valley. Most of the people who you work with, transition jobs very often. It’s common nowadays to make lateral jumps in order to advance your career. This means that you are hiring employees for the skills they have right now.

He mentions that when you hire in a secondary market, it’s highly possible that the person you hire today, will still be someone you work with 10 years from now. Which means that you should be hiring not for who the person is right now, but for who they can become. You end up investing in that person.

And it’s not only a mindset that has to do with hiring, it also ends up carrying over to how you structure your teams. You ensure that all of your junior people are paired with someone who can mentor them. You establish that culture of mentoring and learning inside your organization.


“Ensuring your own personal growth so that you don’t become the bottleneck in your own company” is a particularly important one.

I think it’s easy to assume that the teams success is your success. And as you move more and more towards the role of leading, you inevitably risk becoming less of a doer. At least in the regard that what you need to do and learn, has changed. Google conducted a huge research project that aimed to understand what makes a good manager. What they discovered at the end, was not really what they had expected. It used to be believed that as you got really good at a craft, you would start leading other people in that craft because you were more experienced. The research showed something else however. The teams that performed better, were not the teams where the leader had all the answers, but the teams where the leader helped others learn and find the answers themselves.

This means that to lead, you need to learn the skills that help you help other people make their decisions and solve their problems. This is a different kind of personal growth.

It also means that you need to get really good at decision making. I love his habit of logging all of his decisions and the main reasons why he made them, and revisiting them in a few months. This allows him to learn about his own biases, and helps him learn to get better in the future. All reflexivity is great at helping you grow, this is a nice simple way to do it.


The concept of getting good at something by getting good at a simpler version of the thing you’re trying to get good at, reminds me very much of BJ Fogg and his behavioral model and Justin from JustinGuitar.com, combining both of their processes I was able to teach myself how to play guitar relatively fast. By making it extremely easy for me to pick up the guitar in my hands, and by having the simplest exercises that resembled a song, ensured that very quickly I was able to not only develop the habit but also learn the skill.

Behavior change
The above goes hand in hand with what Tobi was talking about when he said that he needed to help his team do the things that he and they already wanted to do. For me, it also pulls from BJ Fogg’s model. Behavior change is hard. Even when these are behaviors you already want to do, they are still hard. In teaching people to create micro habits, BJ said that we needed to tie those habits to something that we were already doing, so that they had a trigger. Scott Adams, author of Dilbert, also wrote about this in his book when he was talking about getting himself to go to the gym. He mentioned how he often came home and had no desire to go to they gym. But he made a rule for himself that he would start small. He would only get home and put on his gym clothes. If he didn’t want to go after that, he wouldn’t go. Then he took this even further. He would actually drive to the gym. Once he was outside of the gym, he would make the decision. More often than not, he would end up in the gym.

Tobi’s example from Shopify about getting employees to contribute to a clean space is in that same line of thought. Everyone wants to do the right thing, sometimes they just need help doing it. What intrigued me about this line of thinking however was how Tobi applied in order to create better group and team behaviors at Shopify. I have long known how important it is to make it easy for yourself to fall into the behaviors you want, but I hadn’t considered how you could also help others to achieve the same thing.

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