“most top down change programmes will fail. Smaller, well focused, spreadable changes, which are introduced on an ongoing basis in an inconspicuous way trump big change almost every time.”
This week I did:
I’ve been working with lots of stakeholders to get a deeper understanding of all of their problems and looking for commonalities to create principles and models for solutions. One example is four different teams who all need to use the data our product collects but for different things. The solution model provides a way to think about the data sets together and how making a change in one place affects other processes elsewhere. I really enjoy getting into these kinds of complex modelling problems and abstracting them to simple principles.
Charity innovation model
I’m onto the theory building stage of my dissertation and fours weeks away from the submission deadline. I’m developing a theoretical model that describes how charities approach innovation by placing them in a matrix of incremental to radical and organisational to social innovation.
Top-down or bottom-up?
I wrote some of my thoughts about top-down and bottom-up planning and the use of the right reasoning behind both of them.
I made it to Land’s End, so now I’m heading up the other side of the country. And I started adding the places I visit to a map, not in any way to track progress because it’s not meant to be a mission but just so I can look back on it later.
I’ve collected 333 stiles on stiles.style. But what makes it the greatest collection of styles on the internet? Is it quantity, the sheer number of stiles? Or is it the gleeful grin I have on my face as I run up to a newly found stile with my phone out to take the photo? I’ll let you decide.
And this week thought about:
How far upstream should charities operate?
It seems to me that most charities act on problems at a down-stream point closest to the impact, and not many take solutions up-steam to prevent the problem form happening. The reasons why are multiple and complex, but maybe social innovation offers some thoughts about whether charities should be involved in creating bigger solutions to wicked problems.
Value Chain Mapping
John Cutler tweeted about ‘the product’ being the value chain that takes the value an organisation produces out into the world for the customer. There is a truism that clear deep thinking seems obvious when you look back at it, and this idea is one of those, but it slightly blew my mind. It seems like an important part of the definition of a product that isn’t talked about much. I also watched Introduction to Value Chain Mapping by Simon Wardley to help me think through a bit about how value chain mapping applies to product strategy.
So far I’ve been thinking about how it helps to identify the uniqueness of the product which helps to understand the UPS, competitive advantage and how to make decisions. For example, the unique thing about our courses is how much support we offer for those doing the courses, so that’s quite far to the left in the Genesis section (which I also interpret as unique/specialist). Because each of our courses is different we need to develop a website that can handle the variation rather than use an off-the-shelf elearning product, so that goes somewhere in the middle-to-left. We don’t need unique website hosting so that goes over to the right.
I’ve also been thinking about where to add intangible parts of the value chain such as the skills and knowledge of the people who manage the training to help us answer questions like, ‘if we improve the skills and knowledge of the trainers, how much will that improve the quality of the product?’.
Big things beat little things
FIST (Fast, Inexpensive, Simple, Tiny) is used to “describe a particular pattern of decision making that supports rapid, low-cost innovation“, but it is often counter to enterprise IT strategies that see the benefits in only having a few large systems to maintain. Maybe Agile is an attempt to move the FIST characteristics out of the technology and into the processes, and so realise the benefits of working quickly with small things within enterprise technology stacks and large organisation strategies. Will it work? Probably not. Big things beat little things.
On the theme of big and small, Paul Taylor wrote a post about how we usually think (especially in organisations) that change has to be a big thing but maybe we underestimate the small changes.
Responsibility, given and taken
When you put litter in the bin you are making it someone else’s responsibility, but someone who has chosen to take on that responsibility. If you throw litter on the ground you are abdicating responsibility for it, and it still becomes someone else’s responsibility but there’s less of a socially acceptable agreement there, but it’s not that different. Responsibility is the currency that defines how people operate in groups. It isn’t the distribution of labour, or power and authority. Giving, taking, accepting, refusing responsibility, these are the interesting dynamics of groups.
My growth area this week:
Not causing chaos
This week I’ve been trying to be more conscious in how I frame information and communicate about uncertain things in ways that don’t cause chaos and confusion. It’s difficult to know how well I’m doing, but just not communicating isn’t an option so at least trying to do so intentionally is hopefully a little better.
This week I did:
Show me the data
Spent some time this week working on data processes and understanding how and where data is collected, processed and stored to see if there is anything we can do to improve the consistency of collection and efficiency of processing without disrupting any existing processes that rely on the data. It could be someone’s life’s work to understand every piece of data from where it starts, where it goes, how it’s used. But not mine. I’ve developed a framework for how we understand different types of data and how the usage of the data defines how generic or specific it is, which helps us understand the best way to collect, process and store it. Given that it’s business critical data this whole piece of work needs greater robustness and consideration, so testing out my thinking by how well the framework (which is really just a visual representation of my thinking) communicates the context for what we design next is important.
Ahead of schedule and on target
I finished analysing the information I collected for my dissertation which puts me a week ahead of schedule. Next is writing a case study from the analysis that ‘builds theory’ around the innovation processes used in charities. And I scored 80 on my last exam (who knew I knew so much about Blockchain) which puts my overall score for the modules (which make up 40% of the overall grade) at 70.1. Right on target. Distinction with the least amount of effort.
Read and listened to this week:
Rethinking your position
The Knowledge Project podcast episode with Adam Grant is the kind of podcast episode you can listen to again and again to get the most out of it.
Charity innovation stuff
I’ve found lots of interesting papers on innovation and the charity sector which don’t fit with my dissertation but which I might come back to, so I’ve added them to the notes section of my website.
And thought about:
Top-down or bottom up?
What’s the best way to plan lots of pieces of work? Should you start at the top with a goal and work down defining the things you need to do to achieve the goal? Or should you start at the bottom with all the work you know about and build up into the categories where things naturally fit? Top-down applies a structure, bottom-up is more emergent. Top-down seems better for planning against external constraints like deadlines, bottom-up seems less likely to miss things and better at spotting connections and dependencies. Anyway, this is the planning tool I want.
How to compare things
We usually leap to doing the thing we need to do rather than figuring out the mental model or thinking process that we need to apply in order to do the thing effectively. Comparing things is an obvious case. We know we need to compare five similar things in order to pick the ‘best’, and we might have a vague, intuitive idea of what ‘best’ might look like based on experience, but we don’t really have any means to judge what makes one nearer to ‘best’ than another. Luckily, there are only two types of comparison to choose from: absolute or relative. Absolute has preset criteria to judge against. Relative compares one thing to another. If you were comparing dogs to see which was the most intelligent you would need an absolute definition for intelligence, and then whichever dog got closest would be the most intelligent. If you were comparing dogs to see which was the biggest, you would compare them relative to each other, you wouldn’t have an external criteria to judge them against. Choosing how to compare things before comparing helps to compare them in the right way.
My masters will be finished in September. Then what? What shall I do with everything I learned about innovation and how it’s used in the charity sector?
This week I’m grateful for:
The open and creative thinking of some of my colleagues as we’ve explored the way forward for projects. They’ve given me the space to work through my thinking about things rather than requiring the single right answer.
My growth area this week:
Always being right
I’ve started to realise how much I try to prove that I’m right. So, personal kaizen, what 1% improvement can I make on this? I’m going to start by trying to build my self-awareness of it, try to catch myself doing it, and maybe keep a note of the situations it occurs in, asking myself ‘What problem am I solving for this person?’, to help me understand if the stuff I’m saying is for them or for me.
What I did this week:
My focus this week has been around shaping up plans for the rest of the year to ensure we’re able to develop and deliver the changes to the products that we want. There are all the practicalities budgets, availability, timelines, etc., to consider and coordinate with the ideas that are shaping up for what the products should achieve. How these two intertwine and affect each other as they move towards having the people and time to deliver the scope of work is an interesting [bootstrap problem](https://jonathanweisberg.org/publication/2012 The Bootstrapping Problem/#:~:text=Bootstrapping is a suspicious form,problem and surveys potential solutions.) where all assumptions are based on assumptions. The idea of fixed product teams removes the need for figuring out the complexities of logistics and gives a more solid grounding to base assumptions about the work that can be done. But where product teams are project based, none of that grounding exists. This problem is as old as software, and yet is still very much a real problem for the majority of charities that rely on funding for specific projects.
Change of theory
I took part in a user research workshop on a tool for working with Theory of Change. I found it a really interesting idea and have been thinking about it ever since. Being able to validate some of the assumptions in a Theory of Change to figure out what impact the activities and mechanisms are having and then make decision about whether to change the activities to achieve the intended impact or accept the activities and change the impact to be achieved would be really useful. It could introduce a level of rigor as the data that informs the model builds up over time rather than remaining a hypothesis. The challenge for many social good organisations will be whether they really want to get to that depth of understanding.
Innovation in charities
I’ve pretty much finished the research phase of my dissertation so am moving onto analysis. I’ve already got lots of interesting insights about innovation in charities and I’m intrigued to see what theory I can build as the case studies develop.
I’ve been experimenting with using my website as a notebook to add some of my thoughts more regularly and try to see if it helps me build and develop ideas. I’ve occasionally used Twitter, Notion and paper for this but never with any real usefulness.
What I read this week:
Digital maturity in the not for profit sector
This report is full of insight about “the organisational journey towards improvement and increased capability in using data” and includes findings like “The cost of data is huge, hidden, and often wasted. Most leaders don’t see the value of data. There’s lots of counting but not enough meaningful analysis.”. I wonder how the not for profit sector compares to other sectors.
Talent is evenly distributed, opportunity isn’t
Rand Fishkin, talking on the One Knight In Product podcast about alternative ways to build software startups, says “talent is evenly distributed, opportunity isn’t”. How companies recruit, organise work, incentivise, etc., makes a big difference in how opportunity becomes more evenly distributed.
What I thought about this week:
The future of digital nomadism and off-grid developers
At the extreme of remote working are people who earn their living on the internet and live their lives away from the conventions of mainstream society. Kevin Kelly talks about the right to mobility and how that affects our notion of what a digital nomad is (not just twenty-somethings living in Thailand and setting up drop-shipping websites and affiliate marketing). Alex Standiford is a good example. He’s an off-grid developer, living in a RV in New Mexico. In my thinking about the 21st century Outsider, for the book I’ll never write, the off-grid developer looks like one of the archetypes of a digital nomad, where it isn’t so much about ‘nomad’ meaning ‘always moving’ but more about not being tied to a particular location and being able to make the choice about where to live and work because the internet has decoupled those two.
Contracts and covenants
I had an interesting chat with Ross that started out about type 1 and 2 decisions but moved onto the more interesting topic of contracts and covenants. In trying to understand the difference between the two, I think we’d say that the logic of a contract is , ‘you agree to do what I want and I agree to do what you want, and we both have recourse if either of us doesn’t’, whereas a covenant is more, ‘this is what I’ll do for you regardless of what you do for me’. So many of our interactions with people and organisations are based on contracts, either implicit or explicit, but this seems based on zero sum thinking where one person is only willing to give if they get something in return. The relationship between natural and legal rights and responsibilities that are expressed in contracts are, obviously, very complex, but maybe the idea of covenants, which consider giving as non-zero sum game, where you don’t always need to get something in return, adds another perspective.
Perhaps we are all myth-makers
Ashley tweeted, “perhaps we are all myth-makers rather than truth-seekers, and our real quest is not to figure out what is Real but to steer ourselves towards Good“. Perhaps in a post-truth world we can be more open to Heraclitus’ ontological position that reality is ever-changing rather than Parmenides notion that all being is fixed and static. Arguably, without the notion of the world around us having some underlying static structure to it humans would never have made the scientific breakthroughs that we have, it’s really hard to study something unless you believe it to be the same as when you observed it yesterday, but without adopting that stance we could never have reached our definition of truth, and therefore become truth-seekers.
Of course, it isn’t one or the other, both notions about the nature of reality have existed together for a very long time, and allow us to see the world in complex ways, but we do have a tendency to think that there is an objective ‘truth’ about things for which there really isn’t. The example of this that’s on my mind this week is conversations with colleagues that were full of discussions about misunderstandings around language and how we and others were interpreting what had been said. I wonder if the misunderstanding of misunderstanding is that there is a single truth to be understood. When people discuss things they are making meaning as they go, not explaining a scientific fact, and yet we attempt to understand what they said as if it was.
The Futures Cone helps think about possible, probable, plausible futures. Perhaps we need a Meanings Cone that helps us think of our interpretations as possible, likely, unlikely, impossible to help us understand each other better because we consciously don’t base our understanding on the assumption that there is a single truth in what someone says.
What I’m grateful for this week
Feedback begets feedback
The more feedback I give the more I seem to get. Or may I just notice it more. Either way I’m grateful for being able to give feedback and for receiving it.
What I did this week:
Our team did presentations of our work to others across the organisation. It’s an important part of communicating and embedding the changes that we’re introducing but the really interesting part was all the comments that hinted at questions we haven’t answered and questions we didn’t even know to ask. There’s so much experience and expertise for us to absorb into our work and I hope that if we get that right it will help us create a better product that doesn’t repeat old mistakes our ignore old learning. If continuous discovery is a mindset was well as a practice, then looking out for these opportunities to uncover more unknowns is exactly what we should be doing.
I’ve been thinking about the complexity of the situations that the product we’re building interacts with across the organisation. My conclusion so far is that it’s important not to down play the complexity and try to create a simplified (and probably false) view. That would risk creating simplified solutions that don’t really solve problems. Some of the questions I’ve been asking myself is, ‘where is the right point to intersect with existing systems and processes without causing disruption or unintended consequences?’ and ‘how can we help other teams improve how they do things in ways that don’t cause downstream problems for others?’.
My interviewees have started returning their answers to my research questions. I’m still hoping for more but I can begin collating the answers I have so far ready for analysis next weekend. Those that I read so far have been really interesting and make me wish I could have long chats with people about their understanding and approach to innovation in charities.
My website hit 20,000 views this week. That’s not many in the grand (or even not so grand) scheme of things but it still amazes me that people visit the site. I’m sure most of it is by accident or when looking for something that isn’t there, but it’s interesting how the traffic has increased over the last five years from averaging 1 view a day in 2016 to 8 in 2019, 26 a day in 2020, and so far in 2021 32 a day.
What I thought about this week:
I’ve been thinking about and trying to learn more about Theory of Change. The part that interests me at the moment is the how the causal logic of ‘c’ will lead to ‘b’ and ‘b’ will lead to ‘a’ is built up. If ‘a’ is the ultimate change, the larger impact on society, then ‘b’ is what needs to be true in order for that change to be realised, and ‘c’ needs to be true in order for ‘b’ to happen. So, the thing I’m struggling with in this backwards logic is how it can be anything other than a pyramid of hypotheses which could all just as likely be untrue and true. I guess that’s why it’s a theory of change rather than a plan for change, but I wonder how clearly that aspect of ToC’s are communicated. They basically say, ‘here’s lots of guesses that may or may not lead to the change we’d like to see, and those guesses are based on lots of assumptions and biases, any of which could prevent the causal chain logic from having the desired or expected effect’, but they are often presented as a more certain plan for achieving change.
Bottlenecks are designed to be just that. They are designed to reduce flow, or to put it another way, to control flow. It wouldn’t be quite so easy to pour the wine into your glass if all of the wine bottle was the same width all the way up. So why do we refer to bottlenecks in systems and processes as a negative thing? Perhaps we’re better off accepting and understanding bottlenecks as essential and necessary to any system design. Maybe constant and continuous flow at the maximum rate in the wrong places causes floods.
If you believe everything you read on the internet then most products are driven by the triad of Product Manager, Engineering Manager and Design Manager. The product I work on is driven by the octagon of programme, project, product, technical, content, design, delivery and impact. I’ve only just started to think about how these eight roles interact, where each of their responsibilities lay, and how they can all be aligned to work effectively together, but as part of my ‘charities need good product management‘ thing I’m keen to explore other models of developing products and what effective product management looks like in different contexts.
And what I read this week:
Digital exclusion: a growing threat to your charitable impact, strategic objectives and funding, looks at digital transformation in the voluntary sector and what impact it might have on the digital exclusion of those the voluntary sector organisations are trying to help. The article suggests three ways that can contribute to tackling digital exclusion, which is really just social exclusion; grassroots action, funding, and campaigning. Including people in society, which is very much digital, requires a far bigger approach. So whilst tackling digital exclusion is undoubtedly a good thing, it seems to me like an impossible problem to solve. The use of digital in society is going to increase and it won’t be long until all cars are computers on wheels, money is a virtual number on our phones, and accessing any service will require digital literacy. As these changes, which are predicated on a certain level of wealth accelerate, more people will become digitally excluded than can be caught up. The argument that as digital technologies become more ubiquitous and every one alive has grown up with them is like assuming that everyone knows how to fix an internal combustion engine because they’ve been around for a while, or that everyone knows how to drive because there is an infrastructure in place to teach (some) people. I don’t know what the solution is, but it’s good that more organisations are recognising digital exclusion as an issue and looking for ways to contribute.
I really liked this Twitter thread, 14 habits of highly effective Product Managers, from Lenny Rachitsky. My top three are ‘quality of thinking’, ‘hunting for misalignment;, and ‘sending good vibes’. Lenny says that quality of thinking shows in the quality of documentation PMs produce. I think high quality documents are essential for good asynchronous working but they depend on having the time (among other things like practicing writing well) to do the thinking. Hunting for misalignment and getting things into alignment is so important for effective working, but is so hard to achieve. There are so many contextual and points-of-view barriers that we don’t even recognise well enough as misalignments, as well as the obvious and known misalignments. Good vibes make all the difference. Anything that can be approached with a negative, defeatist attitude and can be approached with a positive attitude.
This week I did:
We’ve learned a lot from the product we launched three months ago. We learned what it takes to work quickly and where the balance lies with quality, we learned how to create more problems and solve them too, and we learned about how much change is the right amount of change. But part of maturing a product is how well integrated it is into the rest of the organisation, and that’s our next challenge. It’s going to take a lot of time, a lot of talking to people, a lot of thinking from everyone, but it’ll bring new perspectives and create new knowledge. Maybe some people think we’re just improving a product, making it bigger and better. I think it’s so much more. Our little baby is growing up.
Pressure is on
I had a chat with my dissertation supervisor and got some useful direction for writing the research methodology and literature review, the drafts of which have to be in this weekend. Submission deadline is two months away so the pressure is on to spend as much time as I can on it. The next thing is finalising my research questions and arranging interviews. It’s going to be really important to get the right questions and the right answers, otherwise the whole thing kind of falls over. But no pressure.
This is stile
Stiles.style has reached 300. So, that must make it the greatest collection of stile on the internet, as if it wasn’t before.
This week I thought about:
Operationalising a new product and taking a test and learn approach with it at the same time is going to cause some conflict. One wants to get on using the product to meet targets. The other wants to understand how well things are working. Different goals drive different behaviours. But, I don’t think they are conflicting behaviours. I think the realities of using the product provide the lessons to learn. I don’t know who said it first, but I’ve repeated it numerous times, “Users won’t use a product how we think they will”. A good product has enough wiggle room to allow people to figure out their own ways of doing things to achieve the things they want, and seeing how that happens in real life shows us the unknown unknowns, it tells us about the questions we didn’t think to ask. This kind of thing isn’t really conflict, it’s uncomfortable learning.
Nothing to do with football, but reading Ann Mei Chang on how big tech firms are happy to set big goals and charities and social enterprises feel really cautious about doing so, I recalled some of my old thinking about goals and methods for setting and achieving them. My current thinking is that in order to make goals achievable they should be written in conjunction with the investment necessary to achieve them, otherwise they are just aspirations or ambitions, not goals. The other school of thought I subscribe too is that the best method for achieving a goal is to start with a broad and uncertain goal, take a step towards it and get the feedback as to whether you are closer to goal and that the goal has become slightly more certain and defined. If either of those two are true, repeat, until you have a very certain goal and a well-defined path for achieving it. The usual approach for setting goals, which I’m very much against, is to set a goal with no idea how to achieve it, and then put more work into figuring out how to achieve it than actually achieving it.
It occurred to me that most organisations, and certainly pretty much all charities, don’t need a well-optimised innovation or new product development process because they just don’t develop enough new products to warrant the time and effort in figuring out the right process for them. Whatever they may learn from trying a particular process won’t be relevant by the time they use the process again. Obviously this is not the conclusion that I intend to reach with my dissertation, which is all about how charities use innovation processes.
This week I read:
Charity Digital Skills Report 2021
The 2021 Charity Digital Skills Report is out and makes for very interesting reading. Particularly, two of the insights about digital inclusion, “digital inclusion has proven a challenge for digital service delivery, with over 1 in 5 (22%) cancelling services because their users don’t have the skills or tech to use them. That is up from 15% at the start of the pandemic, showing how digital inclusion is still a pressing issue for the sector and a real area of concern when reaching beneficiaries.”, and “Digital inclusion has proved to be the biggest challenge faced this year. Just over half (52%) are worried about excluding some people or groups and 24% are concerned that their audience is not online. 12% of charities themselves have struggled with basic tech access.”. Obviously digital inclusion (which is really just social inclusion in the 21st century) is a complex problem that requires solutions from multiple angles; people having devices and the skills and confidence to use them, but also ensuring that services are designed to be as simple as possible. Oh, and I’m choosing to take it as an ironic statement about the state of digital in charities that in 2021 the report is a pdf.
Problem Solving Machine
Paul always writes good interesting stuff, and I completely agree, “if you’re disciplined enough to be able to live with that ambiguity for a while, you usually end up with a better answer to your problem“. Understanding problems is the biggest change we should make in solving problems. It’s one of the main points I talk about in my charity product product management emails. There are two problems with understanding problems, the ‘understanding’ part, and the ‘problem’ part.
This week I did:
Programmes, products, projects
I spent a some thinking thinking through how we translate what our programme teams are developing for future courses into what we need to build into our products to enable the courses. It really does feel like a translation as there’s lots of different language and understanding that is important to get right.
One of our teams have adopted goal-based Now/Next/Later roadmaps for their projects. I was so impressed I messaged the project manager to tell them how happy I was to see it Ok, I’m a roadmap geek and I can admit it. Something I’ve realised about roadmaps is that the approaches, models and tools only work for a small number of elements. I wonder if the idea that roadmaps shouldn’t have too many things on them comes from the tools and models not being able to effectively represent lots of elements, or if it’s the idea drives the existence of the models. Maybe the limitations of the models is what keeps people using Gantt charts.
I had a few hours of inspiration about some of the things I want to include in my product management in charities email series so I made some notes will spend some of my time off work next week on writing the emails, setting-up the automation and sign-up form. It’s on my delivery plan to just get the emails written in June so if I can get the whole thing set up then I’ll be well ahead of schedule.
Escape form Bigbury
I went to beach last weekend a d found a nice spot to read a couple of innovation books for a few hours. During that time the tide came in and cut me off from the walking out the way I came in. I put my clothes and books into my bag, held it above my head and swam across a river, climbed up a small cliff, broke my sandals, and walked eight miles back to my car barefoot. I love these little adventures. It’s like being a kid again, getting myself into trouble and relying on myself to get out.
Blockchain in entrepreneurship
This week’s lecture was about the use of Blockchain in entrepreneurial business models, including the use of ICO‘s, which is an interesting way for start-ups to raise investment. ICO’s follow a standard approach of demonstrating that the start-up has four things that will lead to it’s success; human capital, quality of business model, social media activity, and a project elaboration whitepaper. The whitepaper is an organisational strategy document that aims to attract investors by expressing the business model. Tech start-ups often fail because they are more focused on building their solution than on validating the market needs and strategy for meeting it, so it’s interesting to see whitepapers as a mechanism for pulling them towards a more holistic approach.
And thought about:
What are we trying to achieve?
I’ve had various conversations this week, in various contexts, where trying to decide what action to take was hampered by a lack of clarity about what was trying to be achieved. Knowing the end goal becomes a guide for decision making, along with principle stacks in more complicated situations. So many of our tools and mental models are at the task level (see defining our unit of analysis below) which make it easier for us to get on with doing something, and make it harder for us to decide and remain focused on the goal.
Projects within projects
How do projects relate to each other? A project can be:
- Building block – not dependent on other projects but with others dependent on it.
- Chain – dependent on another with others dependent on it.
- Standalone – no projects are dependent on it and it isn’t dependent on any.
- Destination – dependent on other projects but with nothing dependent on it.
But that’s a pretty two-dimensional cause-and-effect view of how projects relate to each other. What about a ‘Russian doll’ relational model of project within project within project? Do we assume that projects are standalone entities when really they aren’t? What issues does this cause within organisations?
Define your unit of analysis
One of the difficult things about talking about innovation, or maybe anything that lacks an agreed definition, is being clear about what level you’re referring to. Are you talking about innovation as an activity within a company or an industry or a nation? In each of those cases the ‘unit of analysis’ is different and so the conversation is different, and confusing if different people are referring to different units of analysis without realising it.
I love a completely spurious and unconnected analogy. So, on that note, here’s why harmonic waves pendulums explain why keeping people aligned at work is so hard. The pendulums are made of a line of weights each hanging on a string of a different length. This means that even when they all start swinging together they swing at different speeds. In a harmonic wave pendulum it produces interesting patterns but at work people working at different speeds, because they have different tasks, different priorities, etc., produces dependencies, blockers, repetition and all the other things that make work inefficient. So, what’s the answer? Artificial constraints to keep everyone moving at the same speed? Redistributing work so those who are faster do more? Slice work into smaller pieces to make it easier? Yes. No. Depends.
The Power of Creative Destruction
Since reading about Schumpeter and the ideas he had about how innovation relies on creative destruction, that is one innovation destroying and replacing another, I thought he was wrong. It seems more likely that innovation builds on what went before. The Power of Creative Destruction: Economic Upheaval and the Wealth of Nations by Philippe Aghion, Céline Antonin and Simon Bunel reconsiders Schumpeter and what effect his ideas have had on how we approach innovation.
Work from Home & Productivity
This research showed that during a period of pandemic-enforced working from home (context is important but not really recognised enough) IT professionals spent more time doing less work. Productivity fell by 20% because although the study’s participants were working longer hours, more of that time was in meetings. What can we take from this, other than meetings are bad? Two things, I think. More meetings happen because organisations don’t have effective ways to coordinate work asynchronously (arguably they don’t have synchronous means to coordinate effectively either, but hey…) and so default to more meetings in an attempt to achieve coordination. And then, secondly, the visibility of workers in meetings serves as replacement for trust in workers.
A Manifesto For A New Way Of Work
Written in 2015, A Manifesto For A New Way Of Work describes the old versus new, which I like as a way of helping to make clear the unknown unknowns of the new way of work and draw lines of distinction. I’ve been thinking a bit about ‘operating systems’ for work, how we define the basic rules that create the behaviours we want to see at higher levels. Boyd’s manifesto helps with a far-off vision of what work could be like, rather than a realistic current model, but it’s interesting nonetheless from a ‘it’s a systems problem not a people problem‘ point of view.
Innovation means ‘create new value’.
Create, because ideas have to be turned into a reality.
New, because it involves novelty.
Value, because what gets made has to be valuable.
The shift from closed to open paradigms in new product development is seen as an emergence of new forms of production, innovation, and design. Innovation processes are shifting from open source software to open source hardware design. Emulating open source software, design information for open source hardware is shared publicly to enhance the development of physical products, machines, and systems.Similarly, the rise of the “maker culture” enhances product tinkering,while the do-it-yourself (DIY) movement embraces “the open” in design.Users participate in design via crowdsourcing and co-creation on platforms such as OpenIdeo and Quirky and by joining proliferating open innovation challenges. At the back end of the design process, customers are invited to participate in mass customization and personalization to personalize products.The open paradigm has received scholarly attention through studies of open source software and open source hard- ware. Moreover, user engagement in the design process has been studied as user-centric innovation,participatory design,and co-design, as well as customer co-creation and crowdsourcing. However, the “open” landscape in design lacks consensus regarding a unified definition for open design practices. This lack of agreement partially results from the gap in approaches to design. Studies of innovation and new product development are focused on user-centric approaches and customer engagement in several stages of the design process, whereas current definitions of open design are focused on openness of technical design information and largely exclude, in particular, the early stages of the design process. The open design definitions also lack the commercial aspects of openness. Thus, the existing definitions are too narrow to holistically represent the shift from a closed paradigm to an open paradigm in design. Moreover, the lack of clarity and consistency in definitions is hindering the development of open design as a design approach. To fully advance the research on methods and practices, a more comprehensive perception of openness in the design process is needed.