Weeknotes #248

This week I did:


Presented our new digital service to our Executive Committee, describing how it enables a young person to click on an Instagram post in the morning and have a place on a course by evening. They might seem like a long time to book onto a course, but believe me, that is drastic improvement given all of the things that have to happen behind the scenes. I also looked at the analytics so am getting some idea of which steps in the journey we need to improve.

Software ate my car

I bought a new car. It has a lot of electrics, lights everywhere, bings and bongs at everything I try to do, and is really just a blackbox of decisions I don’t yet understand. In my old car things were either on or off. In this car whether something switches on or off depends on a number of prerequisite conditions being met. Saying all of this makes me feel old, especially given how much software I’m involved with everyday, but it’s been an interesting experience of putting myself in the shoes of a new user. It isn’t that technology is a problem, it’s that not understand why things work the way they work is problematic.

100 innovation ideas in your inbox

I launched Innovat100n, an email course about important ideas in the field on innovation. There will be one hundred short lecture-style emails delivered one a week for almost two years. Writing them is going to be a lot of work, and might have to wait until September when I’ve finished my dissertation, but given that I don’t yet have anyone signed-up there’s no rush.

Cluck-through rate

We released version 1.2 of Why Did The Chicken Cross The Road and got some interesting feedback on the usability of the format and how children understand the story. Some of the ideas we want to explore is how to make the story work visually and using audio. I’m really enjoying using a rapid prototyping approach and getting early feedback

Vanlifers wanted

I finally fixed (temporarily anyway) the DNS issues for the vanlife-lockown-survey website. so whether someone visits the www or non-www site, by directly typing the url or scanning the QR code, they still be able to complete the survey. I know there is a better and more direct solution, which I want to learn for other projects, but right now I’m just glad its working. I’m picking up the flyers next week so will be heading off to find vanlifers to complete the survey soon.


I had the first lecture on the Blockchain module I’m studying, which whilst about Blockchain and distributed ledger technologies, is more generally about how emerging technologies affect innovation management and policy. All of the students introduced themselves and their reasons for studying, and I was the only one who seems to be there just because I’m interested and not because it’ll help with my career. It’s an interesting idea (for work too) that the purpose of education is to achieve something external to the learning, rather than just to learn interesting ideas for their own sake.

I read:


I started reading Blockchain Revolution, which is on the reading list for my masters. I haven’t got very far yet but it’ll be interesting to see what opinions the book holds about Blockchain and whether that ‘a point in time knowledge’ about emerging technology from 2016 stands up today.

Digital fundraising plans

Digital transformation in the age of disruption is an interesting article about how charities can and should ride the wave of digital transformation in other sectors to change how they operate, communicate, deliver services and achieve impact. Vial talks about digital transformation as “a process where digital technologies create disruptions triggering strategic responses from organizations to alter their value creation paths while managing the structural changes and organizational barriers that affect the outcomes”, which seems to align with hat article. Both suggest that digital transformation is a response to technological change rather than a proactive opportunity seeking process.

Innovation process for humanitarian work

I read some of the Humanitarian Innovation Guide, which is fantastic resource for (not just humanitarian) charities developing innovation practices. I’m particularly interested in the process they have developed for solving problems that involves recognition, search, adaption, invention, pilot, scale, and how that was research and other models it was developed from.

And I thought about:


One of the concepts I’m developing around the role of product management is that it performs an ‘integrating’ function, by which I mean connects the strategic thinking of senior management to the tactical inputs and outputs of developers, testers, etc., and connects teams and functions horizontally through the organisation. One of the costs to this that I’ve discovered and have been considering this week is that impact of so much context switching. If switching between similar tasks is disruptive to productivity, what effect will switching between different points of the general/specific, strategic/tactical matrix have?

Balancing user needs

Jon tweeted about how the service offered by the NHS vaccine booking website doesn’t meet the user need of finding a vaccine centre near him. The booking system seems to be based on the assumption that user want to see availability by soonest time rather than nearest distance, which quickly starts to look like it’s solving and organisational capacity management problem rather than a user problem. But, what if meeting the needs of a single user in that way creates capacity waste in the system and increases the time it takes for all users to have their needs me? How do you balance meeting a single user need against meeting a collective user need? One of the things about being part of a collective is that is that everyone is expected to accept some personal disadvantage for the advantage of others. Maybe this is a bit a of a Social Design approach where the wider system is designed for rather than putting the ideal single user at the centre of the solution.