What I did this week:
I’ve been working on a product assessment before making a recommendation as to whether it’s a good fit for meeting organisational requirements across safeguarding, technology, operations, and people, and how that fit might change over time. Part of that assessment is to construct a test so I’ve been collating a long list of swear words, football hooligan gang names, mental health trigger words, and racist and sexist insults to use as triggers for understanding how we might recognise their use, understand their meaning (which is always very contextual), and respond in positive supportive ways.
Had a very interesting chat about what it means to be outcome-driven. It’s not a normal way of thinking (well, for most people anyway). Having to answer for yourself whether this thing you’re about to do is going to get you closer to your goal relies on having done lots of thinking about those goals and how your theory of change works. It feels almost normal to me, but maybe I have one of those weird brains that means I already know why I’m saying what I say in a meeting, and what I’m trying to achieve by saying it, and how achieving that thing will help achieve a bigger goal. You can’t be outcome-driven unless you have outcome-thinking.
Digital Remediation in Art and Culture
This week’s lecture went into the idea of remediation. This was the second lecture but as I missed last weeks it was my first, so my first opportunity to see how this lecturer teaches. He was using a Kahoot quiz to ask questions about the pre-recorded lectures and reading materials and then explain more about concepts behind the answers. This is interesting in two ways; one because the topic of remediation in digital art suggests a very different view of creativity than we usually consider for art, and two, because the lecturer is experimenting with how online education with large cohorts (80 +) can be effective.
Some things I thought about this week:
Product management is just backlog prioritisation
I spend more time on ‘goodness of fit’ work, assessing and coordinating how we might solve organisation-wide problems and how all of the solutions will fit together long before a piece of work gets onto a delivery backlog than I do (or ever would) spend prioritising the backlog. Of course, most of the delivery team I’m part of don’t see this, and the Scrum product owner vs. Product Manager confusion persists so there is an expectation that the main part of my job should be to prioritising the backlog of work for the team. A high-functioning delivery team shouldn’t be relying on any single person to prioritise work, they’re capable of doing that themselves, and it avoids bottlenecks.
Where innovation sites
I’ve noticed a a few Innovation jobs in the charity sector recently, which is really good to see, and it intrigues me as to where in the organisation the roles are. Rothwell talks about how for innovation to be successful lots of factors have to work, including project execution and corporate level factors. So, I wonder if small innovation teams in the fundraising department are limited to only ever having a small impact constrained by innovation not being enough of a part of everything the charity does. Innovation teams are a great start, but innovation cultures, systems and strategies are better.
The role of the collective in wellbeing
Wellbeing at work is a challenge. No kidding. The challenge seems to me to be about the nature of the relationship between the organisation and the individual. Maybe it needs rethinking. Most organisations approach the wellbeing of employees as the organisation having responsibility for the individual, which of course they do, but there is more to it than that. There are more players in this game. There is the organisation, the individual, and the collective. The collective is groups of people with a common behaviour. Outside of work, we have collective social support networks made up of friends and family. Maybe similar co-supporting networks at work might be beneficial to everyone. Perhaps the organisation feels it couldn’t suggest this as it might be seen as abdicating responsibility but that shouldn’t stop people from building supportive networks for themselves.
Knowledge work changes the input of learning to the output of work. It used to be that you could learn one thing and use that knowledge to do the same work thousands of times over your career. Now you have to learn ten things for every one thing you do. Knowledge work places far more emphasis on learning, which requires individuals and organisations to change how they approach learning.
Stuff I read this week:
Charities, artificial intelligence and machine learning
It’s really great to see this article. I firmly believe that more charities need improve their understanding of new and emerging technologies like machine learning. Even if they don’t feel like it’s the right time for introducing these technologies into their organisation, understanding how those technologies might be used in ways that affect their beneficiaries. Charity digital and technology strategies are always about what they are going to do about their internal tech rather than how they are going to respond to technology changes across society.Follow the foxThis video was sent to me by one of Twitter friends. It talks about emerging process, doing the next right thing, rather using models that pretend work happens in straight predicable lines. Learning and adapting as you go is a better https://www.youtube.com/embed/UsWCA505EUc?feature=oembedView original
Charity island discs
I watched the fourth episode of Charity island discs with Zoe Amar. Wayne often mentions about getting behind the LinkedIn profiles and getting to see people’s humanity, and although it’s taken me four episodes, I’m starting to get what he means. For most of the people I know of in the charity sector on Twitter I only see a profile picture. Seeing them speaking about life experiences and their favourite songs, hearing their voices, finding out about their journeys and what motivates them, removes the barrier and veneer that social media profiles create. Helping people in the charity sector to look more like normal people to others helps us all feel more like we can be part of it, that we can all play our part without having to be doing amazing things (even if all those people on charity island discs are doing amazing things) and be super-successful.
How should we prioritise work on a project? The RRR method suggests that we start by assuming projects have a high probability of failure and so we should prioritize tasks based on risk, but actually not in terms of the absolute amount of risk they’ll reduce but in terms of their risk-reduction rate. The risk-reduction rate is the amount of risk you can reduce per hour or dollar you invest in doing them. By doing the highest RRR tasks first, you do them in the order that will most rapidly reduce the project’s remaining risks.
Tweets of the week:
Shaped by surroundings
I tweeted, “Interesting question for remote organisations: If culture used to be shaped by office layout, is it now shaped by the digital tools it uses?” How much does Microsoft Teams affect the culture of an organisation?
Don’t worry about readers. Write to clarify thinking
Julian Shaprio tweeted, “One of the best ways to become a prolific creator is to share what you know. But what if you’re not an expert?” He shares lots of ideas and advice for writing online.
Abi tweeted, “It is not recommended for anyone to start using WCAG 3.0 in earnest until it is published as a W3C recommendation. The earliest this is likely to happen is in 2023.” It’s interesting that the guidelines are evolving
This week I did:
Team scoped an MVP aligned with organisational objectives and funding obligations, confirmed technical feasibility, designed wireframes and got stakeholder approval in two weeks. Absolutely awesome people! Next we move into deep levels of definition and get set up for development.
Lessons from managing products in charities
I had an idea about creating a ten-part automated email campaign based on some of the things I’ve learned from developing products in charities. I don’t know why they couldn’t just be blog posts other than because I like experimenting with different media. I started making notes and figuring out the structure the emails would have. I don’t know how I’m going to get the time to finish them but I guess there’s no rush.
Digital creativity and new media
Although I didn’t attend the lecture (work call. Priorities, you know) I already think it’s a really interesting topic. I’m going to cathc up on the lecture, get into the reading and start thinking about the assignment ‘Does digital creativity differ from non-digital creativity? Develop a critical argument and illustrate with examples’.
It also turns out that the lecturer for this module is my dissertation supervisor so I’d better be on my best behaviour.
Not-for-profit vs For-impact
I watched Simon Sinek’s video ‘Stop Calling Yourself a Not-for-Profit‘. He suggests using the term ‘For-impact’ to describe the kinds of organisation that refer to themselves as not-for-profit to focus on what they do rather than what they don’t do. It’s a fair point, if not particularly original.
Hwang and Powell said, “In recent decades, the nonprofit sector has evolved from informal activities of charitable do-gooders to highly formalized endeavors by enterprising individuals. In such areas as health care, higher education, social services, and the arts, nonprofits are major service providers.”. In this sense “Nonprofit” is professional term used to convey credibility and influence society, almost a badge of honour and a moral stance. ‘For-impact’ might seem more appropriate from Sinek’s ‘start with why’ point of view but in fact the sector is more complex than can be understood by a single axis or characteristic of not aiming to make a profit.
Morris talks about how “Institutions which are neither statutory, nor profit maximising, have been collectively and variously called the voluntary, third, non-profit, or more recently, civil society, sector.” and looks at the definition of the sector from a range of perspectives including the types of goods and services the sector provides and “the positive externalities that they create for society”.
Pallotta suggest calling it the Humanity Sector. His arguments against the other terms aside, he says, “What brings us to this work is our humanity. And what makes the work happen is the generosity of countless people from all socioeconomic levels, who make donations out of their humanity. Moreover, it is for humanity that all of this effort is undertaken. To call it by another name is at best to miss the point, and at worst to betray it.”
Clearly the reason no one can agree on what to call the sector is that no one can agree on what axis to analyse organisations in the sector.
Last Year in the Creator Economy
“Collectively, Gumroad creators earned $142 million in 2020, up 94% from 2019. This post discusses the forces that shaped Gumroad’s role in the creator economy in 2020 and will direct it going forward, as well as what you can do, today, to become a bigger part of it yourself.” This is so much more useful than obscure tweets that attempt to present themselves as insight.
Digital economy report 2019
“The digital revolution has transformed our lives and societies with unprecedented speed and scale, delivering immense opportunities as well as daunting challenges. New technologies can make significant contributions to realizing the Sustainable Development Goals, but we cannot take positive outcomes for granted. We must urgently improve international cooperation if we are to achieve the full social and economic potential of digital technology, while avoiding unintended consequences.”
And thought about:
Leaning into difficulty
There are always lots of problems to solve, lots of difficulties to face. Picking which ones to focus on isn’t easy, but once we know which difficulties we want to tackle leaning into them, getting serious about them is the only way to affect them. Heads in sand doesn’t help.
Communication over coordination
Work needs coordination too, but it needs more and better communication more.
Right or wrong
Everyone is doing what they think is right, it’s just that we all think different things are right. It’s easy to think that some people are right and some are wrong, and usually that those who agree with us that are the ones who are right.
People like me
Ethan Mollick tweeted “Homophily is the principle that we like people who are like ourselves, and it is a powerful force in explaining how society is structured. This paper shows it goes deeper than skin: You are more likely to be friends with people who literally think like you”. If, as the paper suggests, we are more likely to be friends with people who perceive and respond to the world in ways similar to us (which makes intuitive sense) then how do we get diversity and the benefits that come with it? Maybe work is the answer.
The shape of a product manager
Ravi Mehta tweeted, “Most PMs, even peak PMs, excel at only a handful of these competencies. The difference between the average PM and the peak PM is an understanding of gaps and the ability to unite a team that fills those gaps.”
Rules to live by
Jon Yates tweeted, “After 40 years, I’ve begged and borrowed a few “rules to live by”. Often mess them up! but here they are … What are yours?” The latest rule I’ve been thinking about is ‘Don’t shop hungry’, by which I mean don’t make decisions based the immediate situation you are in. Always try to step back, think about what you are trying to achieve and whether this will help you do it.
Digital Media and Convergence Culture
“Convergence culture” is a term used to describe the ways in which digital media has changed the relationship between institutions and their patrons, governments and their citizens, and storytellers and their audiences. Digital media technologies provide interactive and networked communication that accelerates the feedback loop between these groups. Digital media did not create active and creative audiences, but this technology has amplified and enhanced activities that previously had been popular with ardent fans and subcultures with strong social ties. The proliferation of digital media corresponds with marketing and messaging strategies designed to entice people to interact with companies and organizations. These groups encourage people to seek information on their own, “join the conversation,” and “take charge” of their lives through the capabilities of digital devices. In convergence culture, the boundaries between work and leisure, professional and amateur, and artist and audience have blurred. These changes have inspired research on the potentials and limitations of interactivity, immediacy, and interconnectedness. Some work focuses on the effects of these changes on democracy, including the status of journalism, the ability to organize social movements, and the effects of Balkanization in an era of algorithms. Along similar lines, research on privacy and surveillance warns of the darker side of networked technology. Claims about the social impact of digital media build on analysis of the technological affordances of the platforms, software, hardware, and code that governs participation. Many have detailed the ways in which the technology and culture of computing is laden with ideology that shapes its uses. Arguments such as these are especially relevant to the forward-thinking work done on what is referred to as the “Internet of Things,” which theorizes what life will be like when computer chips network all objects in an attempt to organize the chaos of the world through “big data” initiatives. Research on digital media and convergence culture relies on case studies, institutional analysis, theoretical exploration, and software studies. The variety of methodological approaches and the inherent interdisciplinarity of this work speaks to the ways in which digital media has affected all corners of modern life. The enthusiasm, creativity, and rigor of the research on convergence culture demonstrate the dedication of academia to bring clarity to a world reeling from a seismic shift.
Convergence culture in the creative industries
This article maps the emerging practices in media
professions like journalism, advertising, marketing communications and public
relations in adapting to a new global environment, characterized by an
increasingly participatory media culture. Among creatives and brand managers
in ad agencies ‘interactive advertising’ is at the center of the contemporary buzz.
Marketers in the cultural industries brainstorm about the potential of upstream
marketing, while in public relations the opportunities of two-way symmetrical
communication are explored. Editors of news publications increasingly jump on
the ‘citizen journalism’ bandwagon. All these trends are part of the same
phenomenon: a convergence of the cultures of media production and
consumption. In this essay, these developments are discussed in terms of their
potential impact on consensual assumptions about the nature of media work,
seen through the lens of the combination of individual creativity and mass
production, also known as creative industries.