Chapter 1: Understanding the 10x Productivity Revolution

The 10x productivity revolution isn’t about a tenfold workload increase. Instead, it’s about amplifying efficiency, effectiveness, and impact ten times over by reframing focus from mere output to quality outcomes. It’s about doing more with less and understanding that constraints aren’t barriers but opportunities for focused innovation.

All organizations could benefit from such a shift, but some like the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) could benefit much more. From the outside, it appears to be a bureaucratic mess; with complexities and numerous competing priorities, the system seems inefficient. I often think the NHS has a product management problem, not a management problem. However, it most likely has both. If the NHS focused on customer experience (CX), customer journey mapped its services/products focused initially on its citizens’ most crucial healthcare needs, the NHS could provide superior patient outcomes and service, and reduce system inefficiencies. It should be a world-class organization with its customer data that could drive AI and its monopoly on the market. In the world of software as a service, and service as software the NHS fails to demonstrate the power of joined-up, thinking, leveraging its data assets for AI and connecting its patience with joined-up experiences that enhance their lives by supporting prevention and treatment. Instead, it’s a collection of disparate pieces, all using different systems and technologies, separate leadership, and teams, driving separate agendas. The admin and cost of such a disconnected way of working must be astronomical. One of the deliberate decisions that good product managers make is to build, buy or partner decisions. This approach could shift towards a collaborative, outcome-focused system from the current fragmented, business model. Moreover, it could foster a culture that values innovation, problem-solving, and individual empowerment. So what are organizations like the NHS to do?

The 10x Mission

As proponents of the 10x revolution, our mission is to embrace novel leadership methods, innovative thinking, and efficient work practices. Our goal is to eradicate unproductive ‘busy work’ and consistently deliver value that is customer-centric, sustainable, and mindful of constraints. To fulfil this mission, we must champion diverse cultures, modern leadership styles, and outcome-based measurements that align with our organisation’s objectives. We need to foster an agile mindset, focusing on customers and value and ensuring our processes and tools are fit for purpose.

The following 10x productivity principles:

  1. Focus on Customer Value: Prioritise your customers’ needs and desires in every undertaking.
  2. Outcomes Over Output: Success is measured by your impact on your customers and organisation, not merely the volume of work produced.
  3. Constrained Innovation: View limitations and constraints as opportunities for creativity and innovation.
  4. Unleash Productivity: Eliminate “busy work” and unnecessary tasks that distract from your goals.
  5. Continuous Learning: Always strive to improve and grow, remaining curious and open to new ideas.

While prioritising outcomes over outputs isn’t new, it’s paramount in our AI-dominated era. It means adopting a holistic approach to productivity measurement, factoring in aspects such as employee engagement, customer satisfaction, and sustainability.

Goal-setting is often a challenging task for many businesses. Microsoft’s Rhythm of Business (ROB) process, involving monthly check-ins and progress tracking against objectives, stands out as an effective approach. Another proven method is the use of Objectives and Key Results (OKRs), a tool for setting and achieving specific, measurable, and time-bound goals, as advocated by John Doerr, the famous venture capitalist.

Redefining Knowledge Work

Knowledge work will fundamentally change as we shift focus from ‘busy work’ to problem-solving, leveraging our unique human capabilities and emotional intelligence. This change involves identifying and eradicating ‘busy work,’ tasks that add minimal or no value. I propose classifying knowledge work into Reactionary Work, Planning Work, Procedural Work, and Problem-Solving Work.

  • Reactionary Work: This includes tasks such as responding to emails and other communication, which can consume significant time without adding substantial value.
  • Planning Work: Strategic planning is essential, but the constant need to rework plans can result in a wasteful cycle. To break this cycle, we must focus on executing and measuring the impact of our plans.
  • Procedural Work: These tasks deal with ways of working. When done right, procedural work can help organisations create new, unique ways of operating, codifying their core competencies.
  • Problem-Solving Work: The most valuable for organisations and the most fulfilling for workers, problem-solving work is engaging and motivating. It allows us to find new and creative ways to solve problems.

Embracing the 10x productivity revolution requires us to ask: Should you hire that next person? It’s essential to consider how much time your team spends on problem-solving work that adds value to your organisation. Before making your next hire, think about how you can harness constraints to drive performance and achieve the 10x shift.

Stay tuned for the next chapter, where I will explore the productivity paradox and how embracing constraints can help you drive better performance.

Prologue: The 10X Productivity Revolution Starts Now?

In a recent contemplative period, I found myself inspired to captrure some ideas I have had for some time – as a series of insightful blog articles. Should they resonate positively with readers, I envisage them amalgamating into a cohesive, self-published volume.

Jason Nash

Revolution need not be a tumultuous upheaval that topples the old regime. Instead, every revolution involves catalyzing a movement that captivates hearts, minds, and imaginations.

We are on the cusp of an epoch in human history. Our economies labour under unprecedented debts, and social harmony is fraying due to inequality and polarization. Meanwhile, climate change hastens, and biodiversity dwindles. These looming threats cast long, ominous shadows on our shared future.

Yet, within this challenging moment lies an extraordinary opportunity for daring leaders. Imagine multiplying productivity not merely by 10%, but by 10X. By embracing innovative leadership styles, thinking paradigms, and work practices and leveraging transformative technologies like artificial intelligence, we can unlock exponential advances in efficiency, innovation, and sustainable growth.

The hour is ripe for a productivity revolution. We need 10X heroes – particularly visionary executives and business leaders – to spearhead this movement. Radical solutions are essential to address our systemic issues. The era of escalating debts, societal divide, and climate crisis won’t yield to business as usual. We must question traditional wisdom and established economic models.

This book gives executives and leadership teams the knowledge and strategies to spark a productivity revolution within their organizations. You’ll learn how to identify and eliminate constraints, cultivate a high-performance culture, harness AI, and optimize team management for efficiency.

The future depends on everyday business leaders achieving extraordinary outcomes. You hold the latent potential to be a 10X hero. With creativity, determination, and constant improvement, we can forge a brighter, sustainable future. The productivity revolution commences now. Turn the page and embark on your journey.

10x The productivity Revolution

Table of Contents

  • Prologue: The Dawn of the Productivity Revolution
  • Part 1: Understanding the Productivity Puzzle
    • Chapter 1: Understanding the 10x Productivity Revolution
    • Chapter 2: A Productivity Paradox: The Power of Constraints
    • Chapter 3: Human Obstacles to Productivity
  • Part 2: Charting the Path Forward
    • Chapter 4: The Triple Keys to Unleashing Productivity
    • Chapter 5: The Ascending Role of the Chief Productivity Officer
    • Chapter 6: The Interplay of Motivation, Psychology, and Productivity
  • Part 3: Reaping Exponential Gains
    • Chapter 7: AI, Automation, and the Future Work Landscape
    • Chapter 8: An Introduction to Prompt Engineering
    • Chapter 9: The Synergy of Human-AI Collaboration
  • Section 4: Spearheading the Revolution
    • Chapter 10: Cultivating a Culture of Productivity
    • Chapter 11: Orchestrating Teams for Optimal Productivity
    • Chapter 12: Leaping Towards the 10X Milestone

Embracing AI and Smart Agents

The technology landscape is evolving rapidly, with AI and large language models (LLMs) reshaping how businesses operate. NVIDIA’s recent announcement of AI Foundations, a cloud service offering that enables businesses to build, refine, and operate custom LLMs and generative AI models using proprietary data, highlights the growing importance of AI in the corporate world.

Just as websites transitioned from being a novelty in the early days of the internet to an essential component of any business, AI is poised to become an indispensable tool for organisations across industries. One area where AI’s impact is particularly evident is the emergence of smart agents, which are transforming both internal processes and customer-facing interactions.

Internal Smart Agents (internal like Intranet):

  1. Process automation: Streamline repetitive tasks like data entry and report generation.
  2. Knowledge management: Organise and manage internal knowledge for quick access.
  3. Decision support: Analyze data and provide insights for informed decision-making.
  4. Employee onboarding and training: Offer personalised guidance and integration for new hires.
  5. Virtual assistants: Support employees in daily tasks, schedule management, and reminders.
  6. AI board members and strategic advisors: Utilize AI to identify trends, assess risks, and provide unbiased insights for strategic decisions, such as the AI board member “VITAL” developed by Deep Knowledge Ventures.

External Smart Agents (Like a web page):

  1. Customer support: Provide instant, personalised assistance for customer inquiries and issues.
  2. Sales and marketing: Guide potential customers through purchasing with relevant product suggestions.
  3. Personalised recommendations: Enhance the customer experience with tailored product or service recommendations.
  4. Content creation and curation: Generate personalised content based on customer interests.
  5. Social media management: Engage with customers on social platforms and manage online communities.
  6. NVIDIA’s AI Foundations, along with similar advancements, make it easier for businesses to harness the power of AI and LLMs to create smart agents tailored to their specific needs. These technologies offer a competitive edge, enabling companies to optimise processes, enhance customer experiences, and drive innovation.

As AI progresses, forward-thinking businesses must embrace these transformative tools to stay ahead and remain competitive. Failure to do so will mean a non-competitive cost model and, ultimately, business failure.

Balancing the Pain of Product Management: A Guide for Business Leaders

The practice of product management is often likened to a balancing act. Product managers must juggle various stakeholders’ interests, including sales, marketing, technology, support, and, most crucially, the customer. The “pain” of product management, or the pressure and challenges faced, tends to shift around the organization depending on whether the business is sales-led or marketing/product-led. This article explores these dynamics and offers insights for C-level leaders, product managers, and product leaders on navigating these complex waters.

The Pain in Sales-Led Organizations

In a sales-led organization, the sales team is the primary driver of product strategy. The product is often shaped by what the sales team believes it can sell, which can sometimes lead to selling the future rather than the existing product. “If we just had this feature, we could sell it to X,” is a common refrain.

In this scenario, the pain tends to reside with product management, technology delivery, and support. Product managers can feel the pressure to continuously add new features to meet sales promises. The technology team might struggle to deliver on an ever-growing backlog of features, and the support team can be stretched thin trying to help customers navigate a product that’s constantly changing.

The Pain in Marketing/Product-Led Organizations

In a marketing or product-led organization, the focus is on building a product that meets customer needs and then crafting a marketing message that resonates with potential customers. The sales team’s role is to sell the product as it exists today, without overselling or over-promising.

In these organizations, the pain often sits with the sales and marketing teams. The sales team might feel the pressure to sell a product that doesn’t have all the bells and whistles they think customers want. The marketing team may grapple with crafting compelling messages that can compete with competitors’ more feature-packed offerings.

Shifting the Pain: A Delicate Balancing Act

The pressure to pass the pain to other parts of the business can be intense. However, time and time again, businesses find that an honest and truthful pitch tends to build trust with customers and allows the rest of the organization to do its best work. This approach requires a cultural shift towards transparency, a focus on delivering consistent value, and strong leadership to maintain this focus amidst the pressures of the market.

Product leaders have a crucial role to play in this balancing act. They must ensure that the product strategy is driven by a deep understanding of customer needs and that sales and marketing messages align with what the product can deliver today. They also need to manage expectations within the organization, ensuring that all teams understand the strategy and their role in executing it.

Harnessing Constraints to Drive Innovation

Interestingly, constraints often serve as the breeding ground for innovation. Consider the original iPhone. It lacked several features that were common at the time, such as 3G connectivity and a physical keyboard. Yet, it boasted revolutionary offerings such as visual voicemail, Google Maps, and a powerful browser. The absence of 3G allowed Apple to reduce costs, offsetting the higher costs of the screen and other innovative features. This strategic trade-off was not accidental but the result of meticulous discovery work by product managers and designers who understood their customers’ key jobs to be done. Deciding which features not to build is just as important as selecting which one you will.

This highlights the importance of strategic focus in product development something only the CEO can ensure happens. It’s not about packing in every possible feature, but understanding what truly matters to your customers and delivering that exceptionally well. Overfunded ventures with too much cash can sometimes lose sight of this, leading to Frankenstein Products that stray from their key customer value proposition.


Navigating the ‘pain’ of product management is an inevitable part of the role. The location of this pain within an organization can significantly influence its effectiveness, culture, and overall success. Whether your organization leans towards a sales-led or product-led approach, the key to seamless operation and a wining lies in a clear focus on customer needs, a commitment to ethical selling practices, and effective leadership. With a shared understating across the leadership team that, constraints can be a catalyst for innovation. A well-focused, adequately funded product built with a clear understanding of the customer’s needs can outperform a feature-packed ‘Frankenstein’ product every time.

However, in addition leadership teams must understand that actions taken by one department can have repercussions that ripple throughout the organization. Short-term strategies to meet end-of-quarter targets might seem beneficial, but if these actions merely shift the pain elsewhere, they can create a debt that must be repaid eventually. Ignoring this can lead to chronic issues and dysfunction over time, damaging the culture. For example, working in a business where only the sale team are seen as the heroes.

Leadership should adopt a holistic view of their organizations, recognizing that short-term gains shouldn’t jeopardize long-term health. They should foster an environment that encourages addressing challenges head-on, instead of passing them off to other departments.

Understanding the cost ratios across departments can provide valuable insights into the type of organization you lead. Assessing the proportion of your costs spent on front-of-house activities (such as sales, marketing, and product discovery) versus back-of-house activities (like onboarding, support, and product delivery/development) can give you valuable insights into the health of your product and your culture.

CEOs who understand these cost ratios can make better choices. By deliberately shifting spending, they can better motivate their leadership teams and build a winning culture. Leaders who are prepared to balance immediate needs with long-term goals and recognize that the organization succeeds or fails together are more likely to share the pain and win in the market together.

Identifying Zombie Products & What Leaders Should Do About Them

“Zombie Products” is a metaphor for products that, despite underperforming and consuming significant resources, continue to exist within a company’s portfolio. This article aims to provide product managers, product leaders, and C-level executives with an understanding of Zombie Products, their potential impact, and strategies to deal with them effectively.

Recognising Zombie Products: The Warning Signs

Zombie Products often linger in larger corporations, particularly those that house multiple products under the same umbrella or have recently undergone mergers or acquisitions. These products are typically characterized by:

  • Poor Financial Performance: Zombie Products consistently fail to meet revenue or profitability expectations.
  • Low Usage: These products often see significantly lower usage compared to other offerings in the portfolio.
  • Negative Customer Feedback: Zombie Products can consistently receive poor reviews, leading to a negative impact on the brand.
  • High Support Costs: If a product requires a disproportionate amount of support or maintenance, it could be draining resources without delivering sufficient value.
  • High technical debit: products which large amounts of defects running on legacy tech that have not been maintained.

The Impact of Zombie Products on Your Portfolio and Brand

Zombie Products can have a significant impact on your brand and portfolio. They not only consume resources that could be better utilized elsewhere but can also confuse customers and dilute your brand’s value. Furthermore, in the context of Private Equity (PE) where businesses often bring multiple products together under one umbrella, Zombie Products can create unnecessary complexity and hinder the transition to a unified product platform.

Dealing with Zombie Products: Effective Strategies

Once you’ve identified a Zombie Product, there are several strategies you can employ:

  • End of Life (EOL): Sometimes, the most cost-effective decision is to discontinue the product, freeing up resources to focus on more promising offerings.
  • Shift to a Product P&L Approach: Alternatively, you might decide to invest in the product, moving it from a project-based approach to a product-based one. This means investing in ongoing development, tracking its Profit & Loss (P&L), and holding a dedicated team accountable for its performance.

A bubble chart can be an effective tool for portfolio management, particularly when making decisions about product end-of-life. This type of visualization allows you to represent three dimensions of data, which can be extremely valuable in assessing the performance and future potential of different products in your portfolio. For instance, the X and Y axes could represent two key performance indicators such as revenue and profitability, while the size of the bubble could represent another important metric such as market share or customer base size.

By plotting your products in this way, you can quickly identify which products are high performers (high revenue, high profitability) and which ones are underperforming. This visual comparison can help you to make informed decisions about where to invest and where to consider product end-of-life. Products that are underperforming on multiple metrics and have a small market share may be prime candidates for discontinuation, freeing up resources that can be better utilized elsewhere in your portfolio.

Portfolio Rationalization for the Benefit of Customers and Shareholders

In the case of businesses undergoing mergers or acquisitions or those with an extensive product portfolio, a key part of dealing with Zombie Products involves portfolio rationalization. This process involves evaluating each product in the portfolio and deciding whether to invest in it, maintain it, or retire it. The goal is to create a streamlined, focused product portfolio that delivers value to customers and shareholders.

Identifying and effectively managing Zombie Products is a crucial. It helps ensure that your product portfolio remains vibrant, healthy, and valuable, and that your resources are focused on creating products that customers love and that drive profitable growth. Understanding the warning signs of a Zombie Product, the potential impact on your brand and portfolio, and the strategies to deal with them can help you navigate the complex landscape of product management effectively. In our next article, we’ll continue our exploration of product management challenges, so stay tuned for more insights.