The Blacklist: As product people, what can we learn from Reddington's approach to life?

If you've (binge) watched The Blacklist, you've probably fallen a little in love with 'Red'. I know I have.

If not, why not? Check it out - I'll see you in 9 series time!

So, what can we learn from the Raymond Reddington approach to life? Minus of course the sociopathic criminality!

Know your primary goal and commit to meeting it.

What's yours? Are you and your team committed to it? If not, why not? Lack of alignment with the goal is why people quit.

Success is not a direct or easy path.

There will be casualties. In our case good ideas, products, features and business opportunities may not make it. Learn to live with that.

Hack/Use the system.

Some rules are stupid, bend them, break them or subvert them.

Most 'systems' are a collection of rules to stop a previous failure occurring again. This risk aversion can stop innovation. Seek forgiveness not permission and operate below the radar.

Build, curate and use informal networks.

Most organisations have an overt network. The real work gets done via the informal networks that are often hidden.

Knowledge is power.

Learn faster than your competition. Red looks at information from sources that others don't consider. Then he connects the dots in unconventional ways to gain insight others can't. What aren't you looking at?

Sometimes you have to get comfortable with Chaos.

Be flexible in the face of new information.

What's in it for me?

People respond better when there is a win in it for them. Figure out what wins people want and deliver them. You'll get much better buy-in.

Trust your team - "Value loyalty above all else."

But only to a point ... Autonomy with accountability. Can you trust your team to do what you agreed? Have you got a relationship that allows you to let them know when they're not? Can they tell you if you're not keeping your promises? When we take ownership of doing something, we also become accountable for it.

Situational Ethics

Decisions aren't black and white, they're murky grey.  Situational awareness helps make better decisions based on the full context.

Distract with unexpected humour to de-pressure a situation

Sometimes the best way to calm a tense situation is to focusing attention elsewhere.

Red usually notices a detail and riffs on it. I'll leave you with an example.

Red (trying to get information from a gunsmith): "Is that a 416 rigby mauser? And fully loaded no less ... An african bull elephant weights 14,000lb. And this can bring one down. I happend on one of those magnificent creatures in the Zambezi valley and one of these came in quite handy?".

Liz: "You shot an elephant?"

Red: "Lord, no. I shot the poacher who was about to kill the elephant."

(PS. If you want more someone has done the work for us.)

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