I have a crazy love for frameworks. In fact, I have an Evernote tag dedicated to categorizing useful frameworks that can provide direction in something as specific as a niche marketing channel or other general things in life like personal growth.1

But I want to use this post as a chance to reflect on the useful and proven frameworks that mentors have imparted to me in my first 2 years working. These are really simple concepts but provide great value in getting shit done.

Purpose – Process – Payoff (PPP)

PPP stands for purpose, payoff, and process. The first time I researched on this framework, I stumbled upon this article that explained succinctly the entire thing.1

It’s essentially a framework that let’s you communicate an idea or proposal in the simplest and most effecient manner. In the startup world where everything is priced around speed, efficiency, and quick iteration, I usually use this framework to throw around random ideas in Slack channels. If I get enough verbal support or interest around the idea, I just go ahead and execute. It’s that simple and straightforward.

Here’s an example of a random idea that got executed and generated positive results. I posted in a Slack channel:

What if we have a 投稿 page on the blog? Only registered SHOPLINE merchants can submit articles and topics can only be on sharing 電商/行銷 經驗 and 心得

Purpose:

  • low-effort content on SHOPLINE’s side
  • real real 店家心聲 and 開店經驗
  • community engagement

Process:

  • list down rules on a page just like the 轉載細則
  • make it simple and inviting
  • we can still screen and not publish everything

Payoff for SHOPLINE:

  • collect user-generated content that can serve as nurturing material
  • controlled testing environment to gain insights for a potential forum in the future

Payoff for merchants:

  • backlink from a Shopline high domain authority site
  • feature on homepage and social media
  • some other incentive

The idea got verbal support from teammates and I just literally added this new project in my weekly/monthly planning. As long as the PPP is communicated clearly, even if you don’t get a supportive response, you will still at the very least have bounced off ideas that can take you and the entire team forward.

I think the real value of the PPP is in its simplicity and ease of understanding by any party, whether or not they’re deeply invested in the effort to make it happen. Aside from that, it’s easy for anyone to upvote/downvote on the idea and comment on why it will/won’t work. The comments and feedbacks can then serve as guidelines on how you can tweak the plan before executing or just scrap the plan altogether. It’s fast, easy, and perferct for startups that value quick execution and testing of ideas.

Thinking outside the spec

This specific framework shouldn’t come as a new thing to many product people, but coming from a marketing background, it provided me a new way of looking at features and task requirements.

It came up when I had to push for a growth test that required engineering support. I got too fixated with following a rigid framework for the test that I got blindsighted to the end goal. I wanted the test to be conducted in a specific manner but it proved to be too resource-consuming and simply not practical at that stage. What I was advised to do instead is to attack the test from a different angle but one that still has the same end goal in mind.

A lot of times, it’s easy to be blinded to other possibilities once you’ve set up your mind on one way of doing things. And as you communicate that “way” of doing things with the people executing, they will simply follow that train of thought and not think outside the box as well. Then it will spiral down to a never-ending debate and all the parties involved will just get stuck on the planning stage. But if instead, everyone take a step back, revisits the end goal, and think of alternative ways to reach that goal, surprising ideas come up that you haven’t thought of before. There will always be an alternative solution and once you came up with one, bouncing off the new plan with the people doing the execution usually drives new ideas as a result of the renewed interaction.

This is particularly useful when the situation doesn’t have a clear next step. It’s common to get stuck, and how fast you get unstuck will depend on how quickly you can come up with alternatives and drive through execution.

Courage of your knowledge and experience

Now this one didn’t come up to me as a packaged framework. This framework materialized as a result of the day to day duties in the marketing team. It slowly clarified to me as I explored the question on how to rally people to work together (and with you) to achieve a goal that you’re responsible for. Let’s say you’re the one solely accountable for the outcome of the content marketing channel, and you need to work with others (need team members’ input as blog posts) to achieve the KPIs that you’re pressured to deliver. How do you start and what process do you follow?

Even if you have the guidance and support of a team lead, it’s still going to be pretty challenging to convince others in the team to follow the system you set up and contribute to the results that you own.

The only thing I’ve found to work as a pre-requisite to everything is to get extremely knowledgeable about the topic (at least know 10x more than your teammates) before attempting anything.

You have to know your shit really well.

Based from your studies and research on how to best move things forward and reach the goal, you can now craft the right strategy that suits your team. Delivering your plan and vision on how to reach that goal shouldn’t feel as hard now since you know what you’re doing. But again, everything is bult on the fact that you did a lot of research and deliberation about the right strategy already so you have the 底氣 to go through it.

I remember a quote in the Intelligent Investor that can provide more insights to this:

Have the courage of your knowledge and experience. If you have formed a conclusion from the facts and if you know your judgement is sound, act on it – even though others may hesitate or differ. (You are neither right nor wrong because the crowd disagrees with you. You are right because your data and reasoning are right.) – Benjamin Graham in The Intelligent Investor

A quick story that I can think of is when I really wanted to drive the change of theme on your website’s blog. This might seem trivial but not everyone will have the same taste, so I still went through the lengthy process of researching the best layout for us as well as setting up all the necessary trackers to make sure that we don’t see a decline in all the important metrics. I believed it was the right way to go and I needed help in executing (blog theme changes require manual tweaking of individual blog posts), but without doing extensive research and showing my research to the team, it wouldn’t have happened the way I envisioned it to happen.

  1. Taking another look at my Evernote tag collection of “Frameworks”, I might have set a standard too low for what counts as a framework. But nevertheless, I will refer to that invaluable treasure trove when facing insurmountable challenges or simply lost and without a clear direction forward.
  2. On a side note: I’m surprised to see that after a year, the post actually gained a featured snippet in Google search results.