How to Use 9 Machiavelli’s Advices for Better Decisions

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Product Owner who wishes he'd studied art instead.
Sep 30

How to Use 9 Machiavelli’s Advices for Better Decisions

on things related to product, people and perspectives.

The Prince is the only book worth reading — Napolean Bonaparte

Because of the bad press over 5 centuries Machiavelli has become the synonym for immorality, cunningness and cynicism. However, his thoughts are worth taking note of.

1. It is not titles that honour men, but men that honor titles

You may not get promoted. You may not get paid a salary you are proud of. You may not get the interesting product to work on. You may not get the best team to work with. You may not get anything favourable but expected to deliver results all the time.

Stop fretting. Listen to your inner voice. If it says you are not good enough, look out for ways to improve. Keep doing good work.

Do it. Do IT. DO IT all the way until your inner voice says you’ve reached a mastery level.
2. All courses of action are risky, so prudence is not in avoiding danger (it’s impossible), but calculating risk and acting decisively.

Do you set ambitious targets? or Do you always argue with your boss to lower the targets?

The only gain in setting a manageable goal is that you will more certainly succeed, but you will lose in not knowing how to fail successfully.

Taking up an ambitious goal and failing with glory is much better than winning a meek success.

You don’t have to win all the time. Sometimes you can lose with satisfaction.
3. Hatred is gained as much by good works as by evil.

People are going to hate you irrespective of whether you do good or evil. You’d have done 100 great things but people remember only the recent ones and they are gonna hate you if you’d fucked up the last one.

Being disliked shows you have a character. That’s good!
4. Men are so simple and so much inclined to obey immediate needs that a deceiver will never lack victims for his deceptions.

Someone will always demand things to be done NOW. It could be your boss, sales team, business head or the CEO. They will come up with convincing cases, analogies and urgencies to push you to do it.

Listen, but don’t commit.

Your job is not just figuring out “How” of product implemention and pass it on to your team. You’ll have to convince yourself and the team “Why” you are doing it.

You can figure out the “Why” by weighing the business impact of the requested features/changes. Assign score for each task and rank them in the descending order of the score.

Priority Rank = Business Impact / Implementation Complexity.

Prioritisation is more of thrashing many urgent but unimportant things out.

Related One Simple Hack for Effective Prioritization

5. One who deceives will always find those who allow themselves to be deceived

You don’t have to be nice and sweet to everyone all the time. Not everyone understands that being nice is just that.

If you feel someone takes advantage of you, be firm, but gentle, and express your disapproval.

It’s good to be rude to rude people.
6. Before all else, be armed. The unarmed prophet always comes to grief.

Before you enter a meeting, always be prepared with,

  • Reasons for your decisions
  • Supporting data
  • Previous conversations related to that matter.
Be on your toes all the time.
7. Fortune is the arbiter of half the things we do.

Sometimes, fortune favours in a big way. Your efforts would get paid back, but not necessarily in the most direct way.

You may roll out multiple experiments over months but none would give expected results, despite all your efforts. This is more likely!

Your team and your bosses would start losing confidence in the product, and you.

In such trying times, one sure way to get more luckier is to re-evaluate the legacy features developed 3–4 years back. Removing/altering those features might bring in results.

Removing something pays off equally as building anew.
8. When you disarm the people, you commence to offend them and show that you distrust them either through cowardice or lack of confidence, and both of these opinions generate hatred.

It’s easier to disarm the opponent and win an argument by losing temper, especially with your subordinates.

It’s a sign you lack in valid counterpoint. You knew you lost it. In the desperation not to look like a loser, you take shelter in anger.

9. One change always leaves the way open for the establishment of others.

Finding it difficult to convince everyone to roll out your idea?

Always start with the clause that you are gonna try it out as an experiment and promise it will be rolled back if results are dissatisfactory. Invariably all the time you’ll get a go ahead.

Marry, and you will regret it; don’t marry, you will also regret it; marry or don’t marry, you will regret it either way. Hang yourself or don’t hang yourself, you’ll regret it either way; whether you hang yourself or do not hang yourself, you will regret both. — Søren Kierkegaard

Whatever you do someone is gonna hate you and somebody would admire you. You’ll never satisfy anyone, anything, not even your own self, at all times. So don’t wait too long for any decision.

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    Product Owner who wishes he'd studied art instead.

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