How do you know?

When I was at Booking.com, John Elabd was one of the best product owners. He used to challenge every assumption and take the leap to test ideas that were never tested in the company before.

One of the things I learned from John when someone gets too biased toward their argument on whether something is good or bad for customers, he would reply with a simple, yet powerful question

How do you know?

Every time he asked me this question I had to go back and think. Many times in product organizations people fear testing new ideas because of internal resistance, or fear of messing things up.

The culture at Booking.com is to be fearless, they have no problem someone screws things up and cost the company thousands or maybe millions of Euros, because they know at this cost people move fast, then you find the breakthroughs that cover up for all the mess.

So far it is working. That’s how I know.

Time, Distance, Price, and Priority

This post is not about attacking Uber. I love Uber. It changed the way I move in Cairo, & it saved me few times in Amsterdam. It is about an edge case where the API didn’t provide the best price for the customer, and how to prioritize when there is a conflict.

The Story

Two week ago, I forgot my keys in the office and couldn’t go back to get them. I had an extra key with a friend so I went to his house to get it. I went with two of my friends and after we got the key, it was too late that there was no public transportation anymore. No transportation, no problem. Uber to the rescue.

I requested an Uber and we took it from my friend’s home to my home, then from my home to my friends’ home. The first part was easy, the second part I entered the address of my friends’ home  and I saw the recommended route on the map as in the screenshot:

Screenshot_20160218-004844

If you know me, I am an optimization freak. Being a fulltime taxi user back in Egypt made me paranoid about optimizing my route for both time & price. One wrong decision can make you pay double the price & not save much time. That’s why I highly take care of which route I am taking and how much it will result in payment.

What struck me in the above screenshot was, assuming it is a square from where the car now to the destination point, why move with the edges when you can cut it diagonally and save much more distance which means paying less?

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