Weeknotes #228

This week I did:

Safer by design

I spent a lot of time working on digital safeguarding and risk assessments. The more I learn the more I realise what a complicated and dynamic situation it is. Building systems that take account of how quickly a situation can change, how an effective response is dependent on having information about the person and about the risk, and that all the things we can do to keep someone safe still might not be enough, is a complex responsibility.

Awesome General Meeting

I attended the annual general meeting of the charity I’m a trustee of. Looking through the reports from the CEO, HR, Operations and Finance it’s easy to see what I tough year it has been. Dealing with mental health is challenging at the best of times but the pandemic has caused more difficulties for more people and made it harder for them to get support. However, despite that we saw a 17% growth in income on last year. Although that’s only one very simple measure it shows what an amazing job everyone at the charity has done in adapting and still being there for the people that need them.

Revision, revision, revision

I have two exams at the same time next week, My strategy for revision has been to focus on the topics where I have some knowledge but not quite enough and ignore the areas that I’m weakest in in the hope that the exam questions will be about things I know about rather than something I know nothing about.

I received the grade for the assignment I wrote a few months ago. It was right on target at 72. That puts it at the low end of a Distinction which what I aim for, hoping that its the sweet spot of a good score for the least amount of work.


Thought about:

Weisbrod’s nonprofit sector model

I’ve thought for a while that the nonprofit sector might deal with market failures of the state just as the state often deals market failures in the commercial sector. then I found out about Weisbrod’s nonprofit model.

“In the Weisbrod model nonprofit organizations satisfy a demand for public goods (non-excludable and non-rivalrous), which is left unfilled by government provision. The government satisfies the demand of the median voter and therefore provides a level of the public good less than some citizens’—with a level of demand greater than the median voter’s—desire. This unfilled demand for the public good is satisfied by nonprofit organizations. These nonprofit organizations are financed by the donations of citizens who want to increase the output of the public good.”

Economically, it seems to explain why such a thing as a nonprofit sector would exist. There are three important aspects; the market failure of the state as a result of a focus on providing public goods for those voters that will keep them in power (it could be argued that if Government’s aim is to create a more equal society then it should change it’s focus of spending), that a nonprofit sector is the only viable response to the market failure of public goods (the commercial sector doesn’t do public goods), and that the donations from citizens are not the only source of income for the nonprofit sector, which demonstrates that there is a further imbalance and that the market failure is not fully solved. It’s a complex thing to try to understand.

Stories and attention spans

Why are so many products introducing Stories. Instagram, Twitter, Spotify, and now Google? The tech trends are surely part of it: vertical video, better cameras, faster internet speeds. And user behaviour trends too (driven of course by the tech trends and products introducing this type of content) of wanting quicker means of consuming content. Are users shortening attention spans a factor? Yes, according to lots websites, but not according to Simon Maybin from BBC World Service who wrote that attention spans definitely aren’t getting shorter (in case you didn’t get it, attention spans aren’t decreasing but quality articles on websites are).

Perhaps the definition of ‘Attention span’ is something to consider. Perhaps the scientists think of attention span and ones ability to remain focused on a single thing, whilst attention span via product metrics is more likely to indicate how long a user spends on a single piece of content before moving on. By the latter definition our attention span on the internet is shorter because the content we are looking at is shorter and doesn’t hold our attention for long enough.

Of course, it’s impossible to know what causes what, but the introduction of Stories in so many products is a trend that shouldn’t be ignored.

The future of B2B software is a focus on the end user

Business-to-business software that meets the end user’s needs will increasingly win out against software that is focused on meeting only the buyer’s needs. It seems obvious to say if you’re an end user. And probably sounds like nonsense if you’re in the sales teams of business software companies that provides systems that don’t do things consumers do (HR, expenses, that kind of things). But watch out, this is where disruption comes from.

The tipping point for indie makers

The tipping point for small software startups occurred when they started to disrupt larger incumbent providers. The tipping point for indie makers will be the same. When an individual building products from nocode tools disrupts a market with incumbent players, the business world will start to take notice. The challenge for the indie maker will be what to do then. In order to compete on an enterprise level startups had to build and grow a company alongside their product. Can indie makers stick to their roots, stay as individuals, and scale their product without following in the footsteps of startups?


And I read:

Minimum Viable Creativity

The creative process that allows you to produce quicker and collect the maximum amount of validated learning from your audience with a lower barrier to production. Producing things that are a little bit of everything rather than all of one thing or all of everything.

The logic of the internet is bait

And that bait has “strategic ambiguity“. It is designed to draw you in, make you think you’re getting what you want, but is really in service of those that set the bait.

The New Marketing Infrastructure Layer

Ad blockers and the death of cookies are creating a need for a shift away from marketing suites and funnel-thinking towards a multi-modal use of data and use of authenticated identity. But we knew that months ago.


Tweets I read:

Neuroscience of messaging

Evan LaPointe tweeted, “As a system, the brain is super complex. But there is linearity to how the brain works, and that makes things WAY simpler. Here’s what happens with sensory data in the brain, and what you can do about it.”

Evan describes how our brains react to new information and ideas and for your message to be truly considered by someone, it needs to be novel and worth paying attention to, needs to be nonthreatening and careful, and needs to be a match to some existing paradigm. So, whether that message is big or small, we have to get t through those filtering parts of our brains before . (As an aside, it makes me think about user needs in a different way too, that there are user needs that users aren’t aware of.)

Curation As A Service

Sari Azout tweeted. “We are living through the emergence of a new business category which I believe will become an important part of our digital lives: community-curated knowledge networks

The bundling of other people’s knowledge to create curated products and services, what I call Curation-As-A-Service, is an easy means for someone to get into being an indie maker and developing side-projects. Leveling that up to building a community that curates knowledge (their own and other’s) is an interesting challenge. Doing so in ways that empowers people to get the knowledge they want and need rather than building a product that drives product metrics is an even more interesting challenge.

10 Commandments of Product Management

Shreyas Doshi tweeted, “The 10 Commandments of Product Management

I think my favourite is, “Thou shall take the necessary time to understand the real problem before starting to solve it. Thou shall not confuse Execution problems with Strategy problems, Culture problems, or Interpersonal problems”

What is product management?

The role of Product Management is to facilitate movement in the direction set by strategic leadership by:

  • Managing the interface between the organisation and the customer to align customer value with business objectives.
  • Managing integration within the organisation, vertically between strategic leadership and technical delivery and horizontally between teams and functions across the organisation, to .
  • Managing the feedback loops from the interface and the integrations to affect strategic direction.

Product manager is a temporary role whilst companies learn to interface with their customers and integrate their other functions.

If a company had all its teams and functions fully integrated and pointed at providing value for customers would it still need specific teams with that focus? Product teams solve a specific organisational problem, if that problem is solved another way then there is no need for those teams.