Ask the people they worked with

Why do reference requests go to line managers? They should go to peers.

Shifting what product managers do

From managing production to managing risk.

UK tech for good

There are quite a few websites:

More on ratchets

“A ratchet is any mechanism that allows progressive movement in one direction and prevents slippage backwards.”


“…tend to self-perpetuate. This occurs because the process involved also changes the underlying conditions that drive the process itself. In turn, this creates or reinforces the incentives and expectations of the decision-makers involved in such a way that sustain or further escalate the process.”


Ratchets explain why organisational design can’t be treated like product or service design. Products and services have in-built ratchets, changes only happen if they are consciously made, including changing back to a previous state. Organisational change needs to incorporate ratchet mechanisms into the changes, there needs to be more reinforcement of the change than there is drag back to a previous or undesigned state.

Stigmergic priorities

Behaviour communicates actual priorities, regardless of ‘strategic priorities’.

What’s holding us back? Why not-for-profits are struggling to be fit for purpose in the digital age.

Still no real need though…


As above, so below

Wherever you draw the line of symmetry in an org structure, the same patterns reflect.

Effectiveness over efficiency

I remembered that someone on Twitter once told me that it’s much easier to become efficient if you’re effective, much harder to become effective if you’ve focused on efficiency.

Volunteering vs Assigning

When a person assigns a task to another person, the assigner becomes responsible for ensuring the task is completed by the assignee. By removing agency and ownership from the assignee, we strip them of responsibility – “I didn’t really have the time, knowledge, interest, skill, etc. to do this. The ‘boss’ made me.”

We also rob them of the subtle learning about what they’re capable of, what gives them confidence to take things on, and the joy that comes with commitment and success.

When team members volunteer for tasks themselves, they do so with a greater sense of clarity around what they’re taking on, increased ownership of the decision to do it and how to do it and ultimately more pleasure in the work itself.

This shift leads to better outcomes, greater learning about skills and capacity, and even greater desire to do more.



We shape our tools and then our tools shape us

Marshall McLuhan

You know when you’ve crossed the line to being shaped by your tools when you have to hire into a role that is specifically for administering a tool.


Strategising is more interesting than strategy.


Types of problems

Novel problems require a scientific approach. Non-novel, well known, problems require an engineering approach.

Tackling non-novel problems with an engineering approach starts with established knowledge and good practice.

Modern product management

Is what’s going on with Marty Cagan and Transformed part of a paradigm shift out of Euclidean geometry or just another social media blip? I don’t think you can tell from within the product community, the change only happens if people outside do something different.


Teams and orgs not creating ratchets that maintain a change is a problem. When people leave and others join, they have to start again and redo the thinking of those who left because their efforts weren’t sufficiently established and embedded.

Psychological safety

Got some stickers.




I’m getting more optimistic about the potential use cases for AI. Wherever there’s data, there’s an opportunity for AI.

The real genius will be where someone figures out creating data that no one has thought to create yet, and then uses AI to analyse and augment the data.

Of course, the usual risks and concerns with AI still apply.


Neurodiversity at work is a tough subject. It’s often perceived as an impairment, and it’s easier to talk about visible disabilities. Timely given that it’s neurodiversity appreciation week. I considered posting about it, but decided it wasn’t a good idea. That says something, I guess.

You can’t fix team culture with tools. It only comes from spending time together, learning to trust each other, and probably most importantly, laughing together. Measure how much joy people get from being in the team. Make it a team that people who aren’t in it, want to be.

What makes people leave orgs, what makes people stay? The answers are complicated and individual. I still think the role of a manager is to help people develop their skills and experience so they can get another role, and create the environment that makes them want to stay. Whether they go or stay, it’s a win.


Principle-grounded work. Including the golden rule of, “Talk to each other”.

Thought a bit about user stories, how the “placeholder for a conversation” is right but maybe a bit unhelpful, and how finding a way to talk about bounday objects might take away the conversation/documentation argument.

Wrote up some ideas for check-in questions:

  • What have you got most joy out of this week?
  • What’s your understanding of what users value today?
  • What did you experiment with?
  • Which experiments have failed?


Thinking about user stories and how to talk about them as boundary objects.

Focus for March


  • Mapping my mental model for my new role.



  • Blog post about ten years in the charity sector
  • Weeknotes
  • Daynotes


  • Joy of Agility
  • Right kind of wrong


  • Stretches


How effective are case studies as a marketing/lead tool? I wonder if anyone has done any service design around how best to make use of them.

Need to add partnerships and a bit more on research to my mental model.

Watched a video about burnout. Makes some sense.

Read a report on system-shifting design. And thought a bit about whether I should focus on system-shifting product management instead of the responsibility stuff (not that I really work on either at the moment).

Also read an article about the low adoption of AI tools in businesses. Not surprising.


Shift the system, change the behavior. Change the behavior, shift the system.

Internal change is too ad hoc, it lacks rigour. We recognise a problem, want to do something about it, and get tied up in knots with all the possibilities. Any changes we do try aren’t treated as experiments, they don’t have a hypothesis about what we expect to see or measures to tell us if it worked. And so, more often than not, the change doesn’t really work and we go back around.

Also, internal change is a safe place to be. If it doesn’t get results, there aren’t really any consequences.

Had a chat about how I can come across as negative. I don’t mean to. I don’t think I’m naturally a negative person but my autistic brain does leap to analysing and critiquing things to try to understand how they work and fit together. I get that that means I come across as negative. Not really sure what to do about that other than keep quiet.

Mapped some more of my mental model for product management.


Read lots of now pages. I think there should be a social media-style site where to sign-up you have to have a website/blog with RSS and the only way to post on the site is to publish on your blog.

Read a bit of The Joy of Agility. The chapter on team alignment is interesting.

Need to add a couple of things to my mental model around feature flags for different user types and dog food accounts for product testing. Also NPD process metrics, team health metrics and individual joy.

Did my expenses for February.

The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there.

L.P. Hartley