Weeknotes #238

This week I did

Problem-focused

It’s easy to leap to solutions without understanding what the problem is that you’re trying to solve. This week was busy with trying to get an understanding of what problems we’re actually trying to solve with the products we’re being asked to build quickly for projects with tight timelines. I heard someone say (on a podcast, I think) ‘make the right things to make things right’, and it stuck with me. I also talked quite a bit about us trialing products purely with the intention of learning. I feel like we have lots to learn, so the sooner we start the quicker we’ll figure out the things we need to in order to help young people get effective training online.

Does digital creativity differ from non-digital creativity?

I finished my assignment ‘Does digital creativity differ from non-digital creativity?’ Spoiler: It does. I’ve learned about lots of interesting things in this module, and for this essay, about digital media. I’d really like to have time to go back over some of the ideas and write blog posts about them but that’s going to have to wait until after my dissertation is finished.


I read:

Digital Scotland Service Standard

The service standard aims to make sure that services in Scotland are continually improving and that users are always the focus. I like the idea of service standards. Although they seem quite aspirational and a little immature at the moment with few real-life examples of how standards have been implemented effectively, they are a great way to help others understand what it means to be ‘digital’. I know it’s a very different thing, but the standard that explains how to manufacture a bolt is very specific about measurements, tolerances, etc., but maybe it that’s just my understanding of the word ‘standard’, which isn’t the point here. The point is that even though some of the standards in the Digital Scotland Service Standard feel a bit context specific, overall it’s brilliant.

Climate impact of digital

Don’t watch this video 😉

Our digital world

I feel Like, Swipe, Click, Repeat & Change by Peter Trainor and New Public – For Better Digital Public Spaces complement each other and should be read together. One is about the effects social media sites have on us and the other is a about creating better digital spaces.

Reading list

My notes contains lots other things I’ve read this week.


And thought about:

Measures of influence

I had a thought that maybe a measure of influence is how many times someone has to say something for people to take notice of it. I could repeat the same message time and time again and no one would take any notice, because I have low influence. Seth Godin says something once and thousands of people listen to it, because he has high influence. On a smaller scale, it might be an interesting way to measure your influence at work.

Play jazz

After some conversations with Jonathan Holden on Twitter, I’ve been thinking a bit about how our use of militaristic (and so masculine) language relates to our mental models about work and groups of people organised to achieve common goals. Do creative/artistic endeavors offer a better way to think about it? Musicians can play alone, in perfectly in-sync large orchestras, and improvising in jazz bands.

Affordances and proto-affordances

I’m intrigued by the idea of affordances. An affordance is an object’s sensory characteristics which imply its functionality and use. The idea allows designers to “design for usefulness by creating affordances (the possibilities for action in the design) that match the goals of the user“. It seems like the missing gap between what a product is intended to achieve for a user and the design of the user interface.


Some people tweeted:

Positioning product management

Scott Colfer tweeted, “What do product managers like? No, not Venn diagrams. Quadrants! This one shows the range of what product management can look like (in my experience). Helps me when someone asks ‘how do I become a PM?” It’s a really useful way to think about how product managers move around in there role on the axis between tactical and strategic, and between generalist and specialist. So at the daily stand-up a PM might be a tactical generalist talking about UX decisions for a web page and later that day might be acting as a strategic specialist on the digital safeguarding.

Tweet-Syllabus: Prioritization 101 ⏱

Nick deWilde tweeted, “The most successful people I’ve met aren’t the ones who work the hardest. They are the ones who prioritize the right things to work on. These 7 concepts & resources will help you decide what to prioritize in your work and life” I found this interesting because I’ve been thinking about what we really mean when we casually talk about prioritisation for a few weeks. I’m not convinced by some of the tweets, for example that value is only measured by money, but the one about how every system has constraints and that when projects put pressure on a constraint it causes chaos is interesting. Considering bottlenecks in that way helps us think about the knock-on effects rather than just that one constraint in isolation.

Remote work research

Eat Sleep Work Repeat tweeted, “A lot of people saw that viral thread about remote work last week, chock full of unattributed opinion claiming that the office ‘was over’. Let’s try and use some evidence… what does published research tell us about what’s going to happen to our workplaces?” It’s interesting how the pendulum of remote working has swung between ‘the end of the office’ and ‘get back to normal’ and is finding the middle position between home and office. It’s also interesting how much of the discussion about the future of work centres around the location of people. Is that really the most important aspect about effective working, or is it just because its the most obvious and easiest thing to talk about it?

Weeknotes #225

What I did this week:

Scope

Defining scope is hard. Because you don’t know what you don’t know. We’ve been trying to reach a base-lined definition of what we should deliver in our current project. Writing a list of things is easy. Feeling confident you haven’t missed anything is not so easy.

Study

Qualitative interviews and transnational innovation. As with most things, the more you look the more you see. I thought qualitative interviews would be easy after the statistics lectures (and they are, statistics is still the hardest thing I’ve ever tried to learn) but of course there is lots to learn about how to make them successful. Transnational innovation is about companies moving into other countries, not to access another geographic region, but in order to leverage the innovation and learning potential that doesn’t exist in their home country. This is based on the underlying thinking that strategic success for companies in the 21st Century comes from developing and leveraging knowledge rather than capital resources.

Wipeout

I bought a wipeboard. The note-taking cult on the Internet says you should write everything down. Connect those ideas. Build on them. Don’t loose anything. I wonder if letting go of ideas might be ok. I’ve also been thinking about all the things I want to do, products I want to build, all those projects on my roadmap, and I wonder if the world really needs more poorly implemented digital products. Probably not. I’m becoming more essentialist in my thinking.


Thought about:

What is product management?

I think the product management function in an organisation serves three purposes: interface between the customer and the organisation, vertical integration between hierarchical levels in an organisation and horizontal integration between teams, and feedback loops between all of those. When organisations learn to organise in ways that achieve this without a facilitating function/role then Product Managers won’t be necessary.

BPAAS vs. SAAS

What’s the difference between Business Process As A Service models and Software As A Service models? I think the key difference is that BPAAS model requires inputs from the organisation using the service, whereas SAAS doesn’t it is just used. I think BPAAS has an advantage over SAAS, it has two opportunities for learning. It has the same feedback loop that SAAS has where the usage of the service is used to improve the service, but it also can help the customers improve their inputs and so get better outputs.

Ramblechats

I’ve been thinking about making videos. This might be driven by three intersecting things: My ramblechat with Bobi Robson, upgrading my phone package to give me unlimited data, and spending most of my time on work and study meaning I don’t have time to write blog posts. I thought I might go for a walk and talk to myself about some of my ideas, having a ramblechat with myself whilst rambling. It might be a quicker way to explore ideas in a non-precious way whilst pushing me outside my introvert comfort zone.


Reading and tweeting this week:

Inputs

I normally have lots of inputs. It’s part of my synchronicity of ideas. I listen to podcasts, read newsletters, scroll through Twitter, add interesting articles to my website, and write notes about all the inputs I have. This week I’ve hardly consumed anything other than what was on my reading list for lectures. At the other end of the process, my outputs are drastically reduced at the moment too. Lots of work and study means I’m not participating in the digital charity or maker communities I’m part of, not working on any of my side-projects. I’d like to structure my time better to make sure I get some time each day for this kind of stuff but its hard to justify when exams are only a few weeks away.

Reframe the challenges

Not feeling bad about failure is an important factor in trying things more times and so increasing learning.

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.