Adam Thomas is a technologist and product management expert based in Harlem, NY. He’s passionate about social justice and the behavioral psychology at work within product teams.
Adam is a pro when it comes to strategy, team organization and product management. But what really sets him apart is his talent for communication and his psychological insight.
He believes that cognitive bias and big egos negatively impact the effectiveness of a product team. In response, he’s developed a leadership and mentoring approach that aims to minimize the risk posed by this instinctive decision-making.
As well as working in product management, Adam is a regular columnist for Built In. He’s also CEO at Approaching One — a company that offers coaching and workshops to support intelligent product team hiring.
Adam is best known for his insights into the psychology and bias at work in every part of the product process — from hiring to strategy.
Let’s dive a little deeper into his thoughts on the topic...
Adam believes that the product world’s approach to hiring is broken. He says that many tech companies outright fail when it comes to hiring equitably.
Hiring managers rely too much on their instincts when interviewing for their product team, Adam argues. This leaves them susceptible to cognitive bias — and to the risk of discounting candidates who are actually an incredible fit for the job in question.
Adam believes that simply having a conversation with an interviewee about their life is a much better approach than conceptual questions, like “How would you describe a coffee cup?”. By getting rid of hypotheticals, Thomas hopes that we can create better product teams and a better, more equitable world too.
And, as any good product person will tell you, user-centric, empathetic and equitable design is good for business, too.
That’s why Adam established his company, Approaching One. Through workshops and professional coaching, Adam supports founders and product leaders in finding the very best people for their teams.
It’s not just in hiring that bias can derail good product management.
Adam believes that our biases are an error within the product management system. And these biases are most apparent when product teams are forced into making quick decisions.
As Adam sees it, product teams are susceptible to three main categories of bias:
Confirmation bias (where you prioritize information that fits in with what you already believed)
Recency bias (where you prioritize the most recent piece of information)
Availability bias (where you rely on the information closest to hand)
These biases can lead teams to ignore insights provided by research and alternative perspectives. Which means poor decision-making and potentially bad outcomes.
Adam’s advice? Slow down. Spend time identifying what is important to the system you operate in. And spend time getting rid of the processes that don’t align with your product strategy and operation.
More time equals better decision-making and a better chance of product success.
If you’re looking for more product insight from Adam Thomas, this is just the tip of the iceberg.
Adam is a prolific product writer. He’s a regular columnist for Built In, where you can find his latest thoughts and ideas around product management.
He’s also been featured on Medium, Mind the Product and Product Craft, with articles offering tips for getting the best out of product teams. And he’s a regular guest on product and leadership podcasts, including Anchor FM.