👑 A Super Simple Explanation of Good Leadership & Management

Since the outbreak of Covid-19 at the beginning of this year. We have seen the leadership of different nations approach this immense challenge in their own ways. More then ever the effects of leadership is showing its results in the most dramatic manner. What is true for a country is the same for an organization or team.

This reminded me of The Knowledge Project Podcast, where Jeff Hunter the CEO of Talentism is interviewed. He was the head of recruiting for the investment firm Bridgewater and has been working on unlocking human potential for decades.

The interview touches many subjects, but I love how he explains what good leadership and management is. Something that in these weird times is extra important. 

🧠 We have unchallenged believes about ourselves
Most of us think and believe that:

A: We are perceiving reality accurately
B: Our perception of reality is not only accurate but valid 
C: If it’s obvious to us, it must be obvious to others

None of these things are true. It reminded me of a questionnaire I once send out asking people in which area of my work, I should improve. Most people thought I had to improve in their own area of expertise haha. This shows how we – without having any bad intentions – perceive and make sense of the world, company or team.

🤯 Complexity & Confusion

Complexity leads to confusion. The most important job of a manager is to focus on clarity. And certainly not on control. When human beings have sense of understanding the goals, how we measure these goals and the culture that comes with it. They want to achieve those goals. They inherently want to be good at these things. You fail as a manager if you have to clarify your set of expectations, what these things mean and why they are important. You set up a condition for confusion when you are not clear about what the goals are.

🌈 💰Goals & Measuring

It is very common for executives and managers to be not explicit about their goals. Most often we just show up and work on the things that are present and right in front of us.

A:  be very explicit about the goals. Where are we going.
B:  be very explicit on how you are getting there.

Human beings don’t only need a point on the horizon, they need to know if they are actually making progress. This is where a set of clear KPI’s or OKR’s or what-ever method you use comes in place. Designing and implementing a constant feedback loop from KPI’s to your goals and daily work.

This is something that I tried to do at mobile at the beginning of this year – but really didn’t do it well enough. The goal was clear – 380m revenue and 100% quality of core features – but the underlying KPI framework was too complex and not actionable. We are designing a new goal and KPI framework right now and see if we can do better.

💄 Culture

Most culture statements are more of a marketing statement used for recruiting purposes and corporate vision mumbo jumbo. It works a lot better if you are very clear about what behavior is expected and what behavior is rewarded and punished. Just be clear on how we act around this team or company.

👑 🏋️‍♀️Leadership & management The main objective is to clarify on what the goals are. And have everyone focusing their limited energy and cognitive space in the same direction. People want to work and feel good about their work. But there is a big difference between a sense of progress (lots of meetings and being busy) and actual progress towards the goals of the organization.

🥐 In essence it boils down to this:
A: What problem are we solving that earn us a living. 
B: For who are we solving this problem. 
C: What are our goals on how to solve this problem even better 
D: How do we measure if we are getting closer to our goals 

Like good all products- the essence is always very simple and super hard to reach. Next time when you walk into the mobile wing, ask my team mates what our goals are and how they measured. This will be my KPI on success.

⚡️Clarity tracking

During these weird Covid-19 times it seems harder to keep your focus and clarity of mind. Doing a little experiment to see if tracking your focus and clarity – might increase it. Will start in September 2020.

Made a little model of variables that influence clarity and focus for me personally. But they can be different for anyone. I do think that clarity of thought and ability to focus and concentrate on what you want to achieve should be core metrics for everyone.

🎁 WWDC June 2020, What’s interesting for Mobile?

Apple’s World Wide Developers Conference was held on the 22 of June. This time it was a completely digital edition. You can watch the full keynote here: https://www.apple.com/apple-events/june-2020/

Things that stood out for me as relevant for the KLM mobile apps were: 

🚢 IOS 14 
Apple will release a new operating system – iOS 14. It will be released in the beginning of September 2020. And will incorporate a number of improvements: 

📍 Improved Privacy Information & Settings 
Your iPhone will let you know if the microphone or camera is in use with a little icon at the top of the screen. Furthermore, you’ll be able to share your precise location or your approximate location – super important for LBS team and Lounge QMS. And as a developer you have to be even more clear about which data your use, what you are using it for and who you are sharing this data with. This summary has to be shared in the App store. 

📚 App library 
The large amount of apps that people use can also make it hard to find certain apps. Apple’s first solution was to create folders – so users could create their own categories of apps. With the new App library your iPhone will organize the folders itself based on your personal behavior. Interesting to see how Apple attacks and tries to remove all friction from using their product. Even a little boring task like organizing your own apps. Maybe on the day of travel – our app can become more relevant and will move to the top of the suggested apps.

🏠 Widgets on the home screen 
Through this new feature you can show certain data – from your app – on the home screen of your phone. This way you don’t have to navigate to a certain app every time. But just have look at your home screen. This could be great for Flight status information and gate and terminal information. Or maybe you always want to see how many XP points you have on your home screen haha. 

📎 Apple Clips
This might be the most interesting new feature for mobile. This is like a mini-version of your app with a maximum size of 10MB and is so small it can be downloaded on demand. App clips can be launched via a visual code (sort of QR code) or NFC. Let’s say you are checking in at the desk. Instead of printing the boarding pass – you scan the visual code and the Apple Clip is downloaded with your flight information. This would improve our usage among also our non-frequent flyers and could be a gate-way in to downloading our full app! 

How This Math-Hater Became Data-Driven

When I was six years old, a teacher told me that I was really good at reading and bad at counting. I still don’t understand why she had to frame it that way, but it got stuck in my mind forever. I shied away from all things that concerned numbers from that day. Even when I was finishing my masters degree in Business Administration I panicked during exams and wondered if 0 to 10 was actually 11. Did I have to take the 0 in consideration or not?

Nevertheless, when I fell in love with building digital products I realized that I had to overcome my fear of numbers. Otherwise, you are driving without any headlights on a pitch black highway, burning resources and no clue if your are heading in the right direction.

Here are the 5 ways I overcame my fear of numbers and learned to embrace data-driven product development.

1: Data has little to do with math
For me, being data driven means 3 things:

A: Having access to trustworthy data, making sure all event tagging is correct, data sources are sound and definitions across markets, teams and user cohorts are the same.

B: Have a profound understanding of the metrics that matter for your product or business. For example daily user engagement (time spent) is very important for a social platform, but not for a very functional airline app. I want to minimize, not maximize, the time spend in our app.

C: Most importantly: understanding the effects of real world events like weekends, holidays or bad weather – and adaptions of your product to your metrics.

Most of the calculations that you need for above are actually quite basic, percentages and averages will mostly do for most product managers. If you need some heavy analysis on big sets of raw data, and you need some real math, there are many people in your company who’ve been told that they were bad at reading and love to help you.

2: Create your own dashboard
The amount of different metrics, definitions and all the dashboards and sources can be overwhelming. I have to check 6 data sources – with their own tools and definitions – to get an overview of our performance. Something that really helped me was creating my own super simple dashboard of key metrics. Metrics that make sense to your product and context. Focus on getting a profound understanding off the first basic set of metrics and how they interact. Build it up from there.

3: Use metaphors for numbers
I have difficulty remembering numbers – especially large numbers. I mean what’s the difference between 100K and 100M really?! The way that I remember these fairly abstract numbers is to connect it to things that make sense to me and make it visual. So for example our daily active users is the amount of people that live in Amsterdam. Current daily revenue is 4 times the price of my dream boat (Boston Whaler 210 Montauk yeaah) . Downloads per month is the population of Zwolle.

Personally I prefer to look at daily numbers much more than at monthly or quarterly numbers. They seem to make more sense to me. It feels easier to connect them to events in the world and you get more familiar with the actual numbers. For a lot of numbers, I don’t need my metaphor trick anymore.

4: Daily key metrics
Once you have defined your key metrics and setup your own dashboard (which can be as simple as a regular spreadsheet), make sure to spend time on daily metrics every day. I have to get my key metrics from 6 different sources and it takes me 30 minutes, but if you do this, you’ll see the numbers become alive. The numbers become a story – aha! Stories! I was good at that all along.

I also got a lot more engagement from the team when I started reporting the daily metrics to them. They see the numbers fluctuate and try to figure out what the causes are. We have better discussions and insights when we are all involved.

5: It’s never perfect
The tagging is not updated, the definitions are not the same, you cannot compare these numbers. These demotivating discussions keep returning – and probably will stay forever. It’s my guess they are the same at almost every large company.

I keep telling my colleagues that it’s not the actual number that interests me (besides for A-B testing), but it’s the trend, the course, that I need to follow. The metrics are my compass – they tell me where to go and help us making decisions. If I have been looking at the wrong exact number – but the right trends and comparisons, that fine too. It took me quite a while to fully accept this. It’s perfection in progress.

To conclude
We can’t all be engineers and there’s a place for strategists, product thinkers and design researchers in product development. Hope this helps! Now go stalk your CFO, prioritize that tagging update and crunch some numbers my fellow Alpha’s and Gamma’s!


PS: to Miss Bos from the Engelenbergschool in Kampen. Screw you lady!

🧮 Metrics and Mindsets for Retention & Engagement

Great podcast with growth expert Andrew Chen, VC Jeff Jordan and editor Sonal Chokski talking about metrics for market places. 

They explain the value of the DAU/MAU metric, which gives you in insight in the frequency in which your product is used. This can help explain the behavior of your users. Especially when you break this up in cohorts and add profiles to these cohorts.

Retention is the amount of users that you keep. Engagement is how active your users are on your product. Which is basically frequency and time spend. A weather app for example is low frequency and high retention. You keep the weather app installed, but you only use it like once a day to check the weather. Games or e-books have very high engagement, because people enjoy the game or want to finish the book but low retention. You don’t go back to the game or book once you are done with it. 

In the beginning of every new product you have to focus on acquisition, but as your market get more saturated – or you’re running out of new users – you have to start focussing on engagement and retention. Retention and engagement can really vary in different markets, products and user cohorts. 

How do you get your users to be more engaged?
1: Content and education. Explain how to use your product.
2: Use incentives to use the app. Like Free Time to Think or extra loyalty point through an app booking. 
3: Refining the product. Add, kill or improve features.  

To understand your users:
1: Frequency: how often do users use your product. Regardless of the length of the session or intensity.
2: DAU/MAU ratio. Which gives insight in the amount of daily users compared to monthly users.
 3: L28: histogram which shows how many users have used your product on how many days over the last 28 days. 

Growth vs engagement“It is relatively easy to brute force your way in to growth. But if all your new users, don’t actually start using the product. You still don’t have anything. That’s why investors are skeptical about growth, but really look at engaged users”. 

“The better companies, just rip apart their metrics. Understand the dynamics of their business and figure out ways to improve the business through that knowledge. That knowledge can feedback into new product execution, new marketing strategies or new something. It’s a constant iteration, but it’s formed by the data, that at a level that we see at the best companies. It really really deep” 


Desktop hack for daily files clutter!

I’m a heavy desktop user – is that even a thing? – But during the day I drag and download all things that I’m working onto my desktop. Which turns into a gigantic clutter on which nothing can be found.

During a boring plane ride I came up with a small template to keep my desktop organized. Upper left corner are all the current files that I’m working on that day or week. Right upper corner are strategic documents and information that I want close at hand.

Lower left corner are all the things that I don’t really need anymore, but still have archive to their proper location. Right lower corner is all the stuff that I still have to read or study.

Anyway – it’s not rocket science and I’m no designer, but it really works for me! I can find all my files back super fast these days. Feel free to download the file and use it for yourself!

KLM Mobile

Responsible for strategy, product, revenue and growth of KLM Mobile app. € – M yearly revenue (51% YoY) 1.1m MAU. Co-manage a team of 50 people worldwide with IT counterpart.

KLM Mobile app was awarded second place, best airline app in the World at the World Aviation Festival in 2019

KLM Royal Dutch Airlines has 35K employees that take care of 35.1M passengers with a revenue of €10.9B per year (2018).

ROLE(S) Product Management 
DATA 2019 – current
CLIENT KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, Air France.

KLM – Location Based Services

Created the Location Based Services team, product strategy and initial products. We developed the airport way finding feature, which helps the passenger find their way through the Airport and to the gate as fast a possible. In the feature we show the map of the Airport, your own location, floor level and your gate. At this moment 28 Airports are available of which Amsterdam Airport, London Heathrow and JFK are the most used. Once you can determine the location of the passenger in the Airport – with consent of-course – you can build a host of interesting features.

Walking & Waiting times at Amsterdam Airport was the following feature that we build. The API’s of Schiphol Airport, can provide real time waiting times at security and can calculate walking times to gates. Combined with real-time location of a passenger and their gate information we can provide individual walking and waiting times for every iOS app user that shares their location.

Together with the Lounge team we developed a digital queueing system to ensure maximum relaxation time in lounge 52 and 25 at Schiphol Airport. The lounge agents can locate passengers with a service request in the lounge on their device. So the passenger doesn’t have to wait inline for the agent and sit at their desk, but the lounge agent will come to them.

ROLE(S) Product Management 
DATA 2015 – 2019
CLIENT KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, Air France. 

KLM – Airport Wayfinding

For an Airline it’s important to have as little missing passengers and missed connections as possible. If a passenger cannot find the gate, or is stuck in security and cannot get to the gate on time. His bagage has to be offloaded off the plane. This means that ground personal has to crawl in the containers holding the bagage and find the individual suitcase. This can take up to 20 minutes. The result is that other passengers might not make their connecting flights and the plane burns extra fuel trying to make up for the lost time. 

Therefore, helping passengers navigating the airport by helping them find their way to their lounge, point of interest, but especially to their departing gate, is important. 

From a technology perspective especially finding a good solution for Indoor Location was the most challenging part. We started off with Beacons with turned out to be a very unreliable solution. We experimented with dead reckoning solutions but eventually we found Apple core location – if the an Airport has been “fingerprinted” – to be the most reliable solution for iOS. 

Today, there are currently 28 Airport maps available in the KLM app, AirFrance app and the apps that are used by ground and flying personal of both brands.

The features shows your own location on the Airport map, your departing gate. And search results filtered based on distance to your own location. It’s interesting to see that most passengers have the most trouble finding the smoking area’s and the lounges. 

Building this fundamental product first opened up a wide range of possibilities and features around Airport wayfinding and the location of passengers.

On the KLM iOS app the MAU varies between 280K in peak season to 150K in slower months. 

ROLE(S)Product Strategy, Product Management 
DATA 2015 – 2019
CLIENT KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, Air France. 

Tech in 2020: Standing on the Shoulders of Giants

Benedict Evans – partner at Andreessen Horowitz – released a new presentation with his insights for 2020. It’s a wealth of information and gives me so much energy and inspiration! You can download the deck here. Hereunder the six points that stood out for me. 

😴New tech goes from stupid to exiting to boring (p3)
Interesting to also see this trend within KLM Mobile. From being considered one of the most innovative departments, mobile transformed into a mature touchpoint that focuses on a super dependable product. Our “Boring is the new sexy” vision, really aligns with this insight. I do think that we need a new definition of innovation. It’s not the fastest adoption of the newest fad or tool. Real innovation is solving hard customer problems in a fundamental and elegant way. That’s true innovation. 

💰Only 15% of American addressable retail is online (p15) 
$500 Billion of goods and services are purchased online. If you’ve been working in tech for a number of years, you can have the feeling that everything has already been done. Or has been crushed by FAANG, and all great opportunities are taken. This graph shows that only 15% of all money is spend online. We’re still in the middle of the goldrush! You just have to open your eyes a little wider. 

📺Netflix is the UK’s biggest TV channel (p46) 
An average person in the UK (between 13 and 34) watches 65 minutes of YouTube and 40 minutes of Netflix. Good old BBC only accounts for a measly 20 minutes of attention per day! Personally I haven’t had a regular TV connection for the last 6 years and haven’t missed DWDD or the endless parade of Dutch TV celebs for a single bit. 

🍑In 2017, 40% of Americans met their partners online (p52) 
Software eats everything, also dating. Tinder has been one of the highest grossing apps, and the company owning it Match.com makes $2 billion in revenue with dating related software! It actually surprises me, that the amount of Americans who met online was only 40%. In my dating life, offline dates were like 2% of all dates haha. 

📱What is the next generational change in scale? (p61, p64)
Roughly every 15 years there has been a new break-through technology. For smartphones, it has been the 13th year now. So what will be the next wave of innovation? Nowadays there are so many interesting and specific fields, neural interfaces, wearables, micro satellites, crypto, 5G, AR glasses. There is so much going on. I would not know on which to make my next bet. 

🦾Software ate the world, so all the world’s problems get expressed in Software (p119)
This reminds me of our current challenge of involving our KLM stakeholders more within the Digital processes. Software is everything and everywhere, this means everyone wants in. Our succes means the eventual sharing of power, roadmaps and priorities. Oh the beautiful  irony of it all. Ya’ll want to be part of the nerds now? A little too late my friends.