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

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.

Why is Commercial Product Management More Important Than Ever?

The contemporary business world is being reshaped by an invisible yet relentless force – artificial intelligence (AI). As we navigate this era of rapid digital transformation, we increasingly understand that the path to future success is laden with AI-enabled technologies. This powerful wave of change is particularly noticeable in the realm of software development, where AI has made faster, cheaper, and higher-quality development a reality.

However, in this exciting new landscape, it is crucial to underscore one element of business that is becoming more critical than ever: commercial product management. Traditionally, in some start-ups and even in some scale-ups, product management has often been relegated to being an “order taker” for sales. But in a world where AI enables us to build almost anything, we must remember that the key to success is not just building features faster but building the right features.

Why CxOs Need a Commercial Product Management Function? 

1.    Building the Right Features: AI can accelerate the pace of software development, but it cannot determine what should be developed (at least not yet). That’s where commercial product management comes into play. The team’s primary role is to understand customer needs, market trends, and business objectives, translating these into a coherent and viable product strategy. It’s not just about being faster; it’s about being smarter and making data-driven decisions on which features will create the highest value for clients, embracing constraints rather than ignoring them.

2.    Avoiding Bloated Products: As software development accelerates, the risk of product bloat increases. In a rush to deliver new features and keep up with competitors, companies may lose sight of their product’s core purpose – the key jobs to be done it is supposed to do for customers. Without a robust product management function, products can become unfocused and diluted, decreasing customer value. Commercial product management prevents this by focusing on the product’s profit & loss and its purpose; ensuring new features align with it.

3.    Driving Customer Value: Successful product management is about creating value for the customer first, and in turn, value for the business. This is not achievable by merely taking orders from sales or developing features at breakneck speed. It requires a deep understanding of the customer, continuous market research, and strategic alignment with business goals. Commercial product management champions these aspects, becoming the bridge between customers, business (sales & marketing), and technology.

AI and Commercial Product Management: A Perfect Symbiosis

Commercial product management and AI are not competitors; they are synergistic forces. AI is a powerful tool that can empower product management in myriad ways. It can provide valuable insights into customer behaviour, help forecast market trends, and enhance decision-making with predictive analytics.

Without guidance from strong commercial product management functions, AI-supported development risks creating bloated Frankenstein products focused on technical capability rather than customer value. Understanding and managing the product lifecycle is key. Because although a product is never done (until its end of life). The investment envelope will change and should get smaller when the product reaches maturity, and the business maximises its investment. AI can support this by providing insights and capabilities to product management supporting data analysis and decision support.

Companies that can marry the speed and efficiency of AI-powered development with the strategic vision of commercial product management will have the edge. CEOs must invest in building strong product management functions that can navigate the AI landscape and ensure that their products remain focused, relevant, and valuable to their customers. What are the jobs to be done that your product uniquely addresses?

In this exciting era, the wisdom experienced commercial product management brings, should act as a beacon that ensures we are not just building features faster but the right features that create the most value for our customers. AI will speed up the journey, but commercial product management will ensure we are heading in the right direction. I would love to hear if you agree or disagree with this and if your product managers whether you feel you have the coating and support you need to deliver to this expectation. 


Drive your teams productivity 10x: Why Backlogs are not just for development teams.

If you work as part of a technology team or are a product owner, you’ll be familiar with the concept of a ‘backlog.’ In short, a backlog consists of a list of incomplete work items, ideally in priority order and only containing items you can complete in a reasonable amount of time.

Backlogs are common in development environments and are part of Scrum and Kanban, but don’t just think of them as being exclusive to tech startups or new product development. Backlogs can play an important role in helping any business become more productive.

When I headed the global marketing department at Travelport, we ran the whole department off a set of interconnected Kanban boards. After a lot of initial pushback, the team slowly started to recognise the value of visualizing work, understanding work in progress (WIP) limits, and measuring velocity and gained a basic understanding of the underlying principle behind most agile and lean tools.

With access to automation tools, increased data, and better analytics, the traditional marketing department that once focused on creative is beginning to look and function like a development environment. In a growth hacking oriented environment, managing marketing in this way might be a distinct advantage. Combine that with AI to stimulate ideas and support SEO and blogs and you can deliver a step change in marketing productivity learn more in ‘10x The Productivity Revolution” coming soon!

How to deliver 10X productivity (Part II) for Knowledge workers?

Part 2 of a 3 part essay on the future of work in a post COVID-19 World. 

As we discussed last time, in order for 10x productivity not to be just a pipe dream for your organisation, the four different types of knowledge work that you and your employees wrestle with every day need to start working for you, and not against you. In the second of my three-part essay on the future of work in a post Covid-19 world, I’m going to be examining four key areas that demand your focus if we are to move forward towards 10x productivity. Interestingly each also relates to a question, Why, Who, How, What and although I don’t discuss when, timing is always a critical aspect of being productive.  

Purpose – Why 

An organisation’s big purpose, its why, mission, vision, is supported by many smaller purposes, which in turn are supported by its knowledge workers. These smaller purposes make up all the different objectives that when optimally aligned, keep the organisation productive. So, a clear and defined purpose, big or small, with clear and defined objectives, is key for a high performing organisation. A major part of this is down to clarity decreasing waste, which therefore increases time for problem solving work, which in turn engages employees, and if you can turn that engagement into inspiration, it’s been shown that employees who are inspired can be 125% more productive (source: HBR). Yes, that 125%.  So, purpose deals with two essential needs – clarification of work and workforce inspiration. One is tangible, the other less so. The level of increased productivity between highly motivated and unmotivated members of staff has been shown to be significant (source: Forbes). Problematic levels of motivation during the Covid-19 pandemic have been widely reported such as with video conference fatigue, demonstrating these challenges in a very real ways. Bestselling author and motivational speaker, Simon Sinek is quoted as saying, ‘There are only two ways to influence human behaviour: you can manipulate it, or you can inspire it’. In the third part of my trio of essays, I’ll be discussing how new ways of working can help turn engagement into this ever-illusive inspiration.  

People and Connections – Who

If you can’t describe what you are doing as a process, you don’t know what you’re doing’ – 

W. E. Deming, engineer, author, and management consultant. 

Work stems from people and for the most part, it is done by people. Concepts like work in progress (WIP) limits can help staff manage their workload and work optimally. However, this concept is not widely adopted outside of the automotive and some manufacturing industries. The switching costs, switching from one type of work to another (reactive, planning, procedural), should not be underestimated and has a significant impact on the most productive type of knowledge work; problem solving. Switching costs therefore impact on peoples’ ability to get into a state of flow and deliver quality pieces of work. Flow is the concept of being in the moment. Everyone has experienced flow at different times in their life. It’s when your brain is firing on all cylinders, you see connections and possibilities that weren’t there before, and when you remember to check the time, inexplicably, hours have passed. This is not because you haven’t been paying attention, but because you were in a state of flow. Distraction is the enemy of flow, and yet we allow email and instant messaging to fuel our work worlds and continually interrupt us, making it harder than ever to get into this state.  Work stems from people. At least at the moment for the most part. Artificial intelligence has the potential to change this, but more on that later.   Businesses are like living beings, they react to stimuli. When change happens, the effects ripple throughout the entire organisation; and if the change is not managed efficiently this can result in wasted time and energy, a bit like a stubbed toe turning into a broken foot. And just like a living being, the knowledge contained within an organisation needs care and attention as it’s not just held in files and folders. How information is exchanged around a business depends on connections, and the standard of these connections will impact on productivity.  You can’t stop an employee from leaving, but you can provide clear connected pathways to ensure that the knowledge in their head remains within the organisation. And the knowledge workers that remain need to understand how their work impacts and contributes to the whole. The McKinsey Global Institute has shown that productivity improves by 20 – 25% in businesses with highly connected people. Communication, be it face to face, software, though API’s or middleware; much of it stems from its tools and processes which are often narrowly focused within an organisational silo. Increasing and improving the connectivity, therefore increases and improves productivity. However, 74 percent of employees say they miss out on crucial company communication (Source: Mindshare), which should make you wonder just what else your business is missing out on.  

Process – How

The next fundamental block is process. Although many of us may not realise it, every piece of work we do has a process. This could just be the way you’ve always done it, it might be notes or tasks you create, or it might be a clearly documented process that every employee is required to follow. But all work has a process behind it.  Great organisations recognise this and invest in documenting and optimising their processes creating standard operating procedures and target operating procedures. They use continuous improvement to identify and deliver better ways of working. It’s through this work, core competencies can be established and used for significant competitive advantage. Great examples of this would be General Electric, and SONY who are both well known for their use of ‘Playbooks’ and six sigma to define their process.  Unfortunately, the vast majority of businesses don’t have clear processes, instead they rely on recruiting smart people and letting them do it their way. This can work, but when people leave, the owner of the process leaves too, and so does the institutional intelligence they brought with them.  

The Message – What 

But if you want successful connections, you will also need to get the messaging right. In fact, if any of the above fundamental blocks are to work efficiently, it all comes down to the messaging. Messages are everywhere in our modern world, from the 280 character tweet, to the hefty documents we use to educate and inform. Organisations rely on sound bites, press releases, meeting minutes, sales decks, emails, IMs, FAQ sheets, the list goes on and on. Message creation, and then subsequent message updates can result in organisational waste if the initial clarity is lacking. The creation of assets left unadopted by teams across an organisation, or a message so jumbled that every employee interprets it differently, are all stumbling blocks to productivity. Simply put, messaging is knowledge sharing and knowledge management, and unless a business has invested in the right communication tools, as the organisation grows, any messaging problems, and therefore hindrances of attaining 10x productivity, grow with it.  Traditional ways of working are evolving, we didn’t need a pandemic to show us that, but maybe it’s taken one to make us see where the fault lines our in our companies and organisations lie. In my final essay, I will be pulling everything together and showing how the application of artificial intelligence is the next stage in the 10x productivity revolution.