On the Trail of Evidence-Guided Product Success


Itamar Gilad headshot
Itamar Gilad

Product Coach and Author

Episode notes

In this episode of Dreams with Deadlines, host Jenny Herald dives deep into the world of product management with guest Itamar Gilad, author of the newest book, "Evidence-Guided: Creating High-Impact Products in the Face of Uncertainty."

What you will learn

  • Evidence-Guided Product Management: Itamar emphasizes the importance of making evidence-based decisions in product management. He shares how to set clear goals and align them with company objectives, enabling teams to focus on what truly matters.
  • The AFTER Model: Itamar introduces the AFTER model—a comprehensive framework that covers Assessment, Fact-finding, Tests, Experiments, and Release Results. This model guides product managers in evaluating and testing ideas effectively, leading to better decision-making.
  • Common Mistakes with OKRs: Itamar addresses misconceptions about objectives and key results (OKRs), emphasizing the need for outcome-based OKRs rather than focusing on output. He also warns against the common OKR mistake of creating too many OKRs, which can hinder commitment and trust within teams.

Show notes

  • [00:00:07] Introduction to "Evidence-Guided: Creating High Impact Products in the Face of Uncertainty. Jenny Herald introduces the newest book "Evidence-Guided: Creating High Impact Products in the Face of Uncertainty" by Itamar Gilad. Itamar shares the opening story of Google+ and why it was chosen to lead the book.
  • [00:03:43] The Pitfalls of Planning Waterfall in Product Development. Jenny and Itamar discuss the concept of the planning waterfall and why it's not an effective approach to product development.
  • [00:06:36] Understanding Evidence-Guided Development. Jenny and Itamar delve into the concept of evidence-guided development and explore why Itamar is so passionate about sharing this approach with the world.
  • [00:08:21] The GIST Model: A Framework for Evidence-Guided Development. Jenny and Itamar discuss the GIST model, a foundational framework in evidence-guided development, and its importance in helping organizations embrace change and innovation.
  • [00:11:22] From Idea to Reality: The Tabbed Inbox and Evidence-Based Development. Jenny and Itamar discuss the development of Gmail's tabbed inbox as an example of evidence-based development within the GIST model framework.
  • [00:18:10] Prioritizing Ideas with the Confidence Meter. Jenny and Itamar discuss the confidence level meter, a framework for prioritizing ideas based on evidence and confidence. Itamar explains how this tool helps product teams avoid investing in ideas with low confidence and guides them toward incremental development.
  • [00:24:55] Setting Evidence-Guided Goals. Jenny and Itamar discuss the importance of setting evidence-guided goals and how to choose the most important outcomes. Itamar explains why goals are crucial, regardless of whether you use OKRs or other frameworks, and emphasizes the need for both qualitative and quantitative aspects in goal setting.
  • [00:31:22] Balancing Local Optimization with a Bigger Picture. Jenny and Itamar delve into the challenge of avoiding local optimization while setting evidence-guided goals. They discuss the importance of aligning team goals with the company's overarching strategy and how metrics and impact assessments can play a role in achieving this alignment.
  • [00:37:03] Using the AFTER Model for Effective Idea Validation. Jenny and Itamar explore the AFTER model, a framework Itamar developed to help teams define steps for idea validation. The AFTER model stands for Assessment, Fact-Finding, Test Experiments, and Release Results. Itamar explains how each stage in the model contributes to the validation process, from initial idea assessment to controlled experiments and gradual product releases.
  • [00:43:58] Quick-Fire Questions for Itamar:
    • What is your dream with a deadline? Itamar's dream with a deadline is to help product people bring evidence-guided thinking into their product development process, ultimately leading to better products, higher value, and greater job satisfaction for everyone involved.
    • What do people get wrong about OKRs? People often make two common mistakes with OKRs: using them to capture a plan (output OKRs) instead of focusing on outcomes, and creating too many OKRs, which leads to a lack of commitment and trust in the process.
    • When can we expect your book to be released? The target release date for Itamar's book is September 20th, with a possibility of it being released a few days later or by the end of September.
    • What would you say is the book that largely shaped how you think?  Two books have significantly shaped Itamar's thinking: "INSPIRED" by Marty Cagan, which is highly influential in the product management field, and "The Lean Startup" by Eric Ries, which introduced the concept of evidence-guided development and the interplay between business and product development.

Relevant links

About our guest:

Itamar Gilad headshot
Itamar Gilad

Product Coach and Author

Itamar is a product management coach, author and speaker and the creator of a number of popular product methodologies. He held senior product management and engineering roles for two decades at Google, Microsoft and a number of startups. Itamar is the author of the book Evidence-Guided, and he publishes a popular product management newsletter.

Additional resources