Weeknotes 287

Photo of the week

Did this week:

Month one

I’ve been in my role a month now. Although I don’t yet feel like I’m up to full speed and still have lots to learn, I’ve written my objectives and I feel focused on achieving them. I have a mid-week session with myself to ask, ‘What have you done so far this week to achieve your objectives, and what else could you do?’


This week’s side-project was a roadmaps template library. It only has three Notion templates so far but I’d like to add different types of roadmap using different platforms, including Airtable, Google Sheets & Docs, and Miro. This project also made me question a lot of stuff about roadmaps, mostly about how they show certainty and uncertainty.

Continued being irregular

Sent another Irregular Ideas newsletter and gained my eleventh subscriber. This week’s was about accountability and whether people or machines can really be held accountable, and how we might hold systems accountable.

Future skills? I need skills now

I managed to motivate myself to finish the seventh Future Skills email and start the eighth. Of all my projects this has been the longest to get to launch, but I’ll keep working on it and hopefully it’ll all be worth it.

Project ideas coming out my ears

My ‘ship a project every week’ thing is starting to get out of hand. I have three projects I’d like to start this weekend, but will try to be disciplined and only start two. The first is a small community of side-project creators who give each other feedback on things they’re working on. The second is a tweet printing service so you can create stickers out of inspirational tweets. And the third is a charity searching service to find those in your area that offer the support you’re looking for. So obviously I bought some domain names.


Most days in January in Wales are a bit wet and cloudy, but one day this week was perfectly clear and sunny so I made the most of it with a long walk along the coast. As I watched the sun go down there was another old guy doing the same and we both looked at each other with a speechless shrug as if to say, there’s nothing to say.

Eyes opened

I joined an Open Makers Community session on Airtable and it completely opened my eyes to how useful Airtable can be and left me inspired to explore how I might use it for some of my ideas.

Thought about:

Digital momentum

I don’t know if it’s just my little bubble but recently it feels like the digital transformation of the charity sector is picking up momentum. I see it in conversations I have with people, the things I read on Twitter, the number of people there are out there providing support for smaller charities. I wonder if others see it too.

The downsides of the great reset

The Great Reset, as it’s been updated to when we realised the The Great Resignation might not be factually true, represents the greatest shift in power between workers and employers since the labour movements and unionisation of the 1980’s. But whereas the proponents of remote working speak about it only in terms of the power shifting in favour of the workers, I think we’ll see a counter shift for those workers who can’t do their jobs remotely to where they have even less power.

The argument for modern knowledge workers having more power is that it is becoming skills that are the prize, not time and availability. Whereas employers used to hold more power because they could use physical location as a means of control, now the highly skilled workers can more easily change companies without it impacting on their lives, because they are still working from home.

At the other end of the scale are the “low-skilled” workers who are increasingly having their working lives ‘app-isized’. This means that those working as delivery drivers, care assistants, etc., interact with their employer through an app where the first person to accept a request gets the work. This seems like it makes work more convenient, but it results workers never communicating with other workers and takes away the opportunity for coordination that is required for action such as increasing wages. Employers distributing work through an app can drive down how much they pay for that work because every employee knows that if they don’t accept it someone else will, and they’ll be left with nothing.

So, whereas technology is shifting power in favour of those workers who have jobs society considers to be “high-skilled”, it is shifting power away from those who have the “low-skilled” jobs. I think we’ll look back on The Great Reset in decades to come and realise how much more inequality it drove in the labour market. The pandemic taught us nothing about how essential those jobs are for keeping society running.

And read:

Theory of change for civil rights in a digital age

I read Hivos’ white paper on putting civic action, justice and responsibility at the heart of our societies. It’s interesting to see theory of change in a different context (but why still with the PDFs?). I’m still trying to understand the scope of assumptions that make up theories of change. Clearly a theory of change can’t have an objective chain of causal logic because of the complex things it deals with, but then how far can you go in stating assumptions about how certain activities will lead to outcomes? If a butterfly flaps it’s wings…

People Prefer Moral Discretion to Algorithms

I read a paper that explores aversion to the use of algorithms in moral decision-making. It suggests that people would rather have other people making decisions than algorithms, even if they are both following the same rules. Do we think people might be on our side whereas algorithms don’t take sides?

The reasoning behind the roadmap

There’s more to creating a product roadmap than putting boxes on a diagram. To create effective roadmaps you need to understand the logic that applies behind the boxes.

Product roadmapping uses deductive reasoning. It starts with a theory, sets a hypothesis, and then makes observations to prove or disprove the hypothesis, and so deduce conclusions from things proposed by the theory.

Products start with the ‘subjective theory of value‘. It states that value is determined by the importance an individual places on a good for the achievement of desired ends.

When we talk about products meeting user needs or outcomes, we’re talking about the subjective theory of value. It says users value meeting their needs more than they value the money the product costs, that’s why they pay.

Next we set hypotheses to test the theory. It could be ‘releasing new feature X will meet user need Y and users will pay Z for it’. We might show this on a roadmap as ‘Feature X’ but really we’re expressing the hypothesis.

When we measure how well that feature is performing we are conducting observations to prove or disprove the hypothesis. If we get feedback that the feature is meeting the need and that users are willing to pay for it, then we’ve proved our hypothesis correct.

We use deductive reasoning for roadmapping because it closely follows the path of logic and has advantages:

  1. Explains causal relationships between concepts and variables.
  2. Measures concepts quantitatively.
  3. Generalises findings to a certain extent.

Concepts are abstract ideas like ‘paying’ and a variable might be ‘price’. Deductive reasoning helps us understand the relationship between the price, which we can change, and the how likely users are to pay that price.

We can measure a concept like ‘paying’ quantitatively by observing how many users pay and how much they pay. This helps us understand the concept more objectively and build theory off of it.

Deductive approaches allow “reasoning from the general to the particular” (Pelissier, 2008) meaning that what we can link premises in the theory with conclusions from our observations.

So, roadmaps are more than just a diagram of features, they are a means to bring the discipline of deductive reasoning to product management and to express the hypotheses that we use to test theories.

Weeknotes ‘258

This week I did:

Understanding problems

I was only at work two days this week due to exams but I was trying to be disciplined with myself about understanding problems before jumping to solutions. It made me stop and step back a few times. And it meant asking more questions, which even though I tried to explain why, I think some people found it annoying. Something to work on.

Last exam

Did my last exam. So that’s all of the modules for my MSc finished. And I got 76 on the last assignment I submitted. It puts me right on the borderline between distinction and merit, so depending on what result I get for my exam, it should push me over the line.

Productising services

Started some more product advisor work. It’s interesting to see organisations thinking about how to productise their services. My sense at the moment is that the majority will settle on a kind of business-process-as-a-service type model that gives some flexibility around people performing processes and the automation of other aspects. The charity and social good sector doesn’t feel quite ready for fully product business models.

Innovation processes in charities

Had a good chat with my dissertation supervisor about the literature review and research methodology I’ve been working on. I have a better structure in mind for the research and feel like I’ll soon be in a good position to finalise my research questions and send out the questionnaire.

Interface Integrate Iterate

I had my first sign-up and I pinned a tweet about my four email series about some of my ideas about the role product management can play in charities. Hopefully I get some feedback on the ideas that helps with my thinking about what makes good product management in charities.

And thought about:

What good product management in charities looks like

How to get the value of product management into charities that don’t value product management? That’s the question. That’s the challenge.


As part of my revision for my exam I read about blockchain being used to provide credit to the four billion of unbanked people in the world. It made me thinking about microloans as a funding mechanism for charities. So, a charity could launch a campaign to secure zero interest loans rather than (or in addition to) donations, use the money to fund recruiting a fundraiser, who then raises enough money to pay back the loans, pay their salary, and fund other work for the charity. I’m sure in reality managing loans is massively complicated, but in my head it all makes sense and seems like a good opportunity (this why I don’t work in finance).

Public roadmaps

I’m a bit smitten with public roadmaps. It isn’t the roadmap itself, whatever it’s format (lets not get into that discussion again), it’s the courage and commitment to publicly state what you’ve achieved recently and will be working on in the future. Organisations that have public roadmaps are up there with remote-first organisations.

And read;

Value creation 101

Jelmer tweeted an interesting thread about value. Although I don’t agree with everything in the thread, for example about value being connected to scarcity and supply & demand, I think concepts like this are important to think about.

Product Management Handbook

I’ve started reading Scot Colfer’s Product Management Handbook, and Lauren Crichton’s Q&A with Scott. I love this quote, “Product managers don’t do anything. We listen. We think. And we talk. We understand other people’s perspectives and find value in the sweet spot where those perspectives converge. Product management is a role based on the power of conversations.” I wonder if its why some organisations, delivery-focused organisations perhaps, struggle with product management, because it doesn’t look like it delivers anything in the way designers and developers do. So the showing value in other ways becomes important, often through tangible artifacts, documentation, etc.

Principles vs. rules

The BetaCodex Network looks really interesting. If you’re into that kind of thing.

Weeknotes #253

This week I did

New strategy

Our new organisational strategy was released this week. I’m keen to spend some time soon reading it more deeply and thinking about how to interpret it for the work we’re doing. I’ve noticed a few strategic mis-alignments recently between the work our programme design team is doing and the direction I thought the product team was heading, so now is the time to bring together the different perspectives and course correct before we get into the next phase of work.

I also spent a bit of time working on product strategy to develop some guiding principles. One of those is about the ensuring that the speed we introduce change is matched to the speed at which the changes can be adopted. Just going as fast as we can seems like the wrong thing to do, as counter as it is to lots of product development thinking and my personal beliefs, because it’ll cause bottlenecks and futureshock.

Systems training

Delivered training on using some of the new systems we’re putting in place. As part of the thinking for what to include in the training I was imagining the ‘system of systems’ we have. There are lots of distinct systems that have certain data and perform certain processes, and then there are linking processes, automated and manual, that move that data between the systems, and then the human nodes in the system that contain information about how the system works but are very much part of the system. Maybe I should just stick to delivering the training.

Delivery planning

I wrote out my delivery plan (still a work in progress but mostly there) to help me track what I’ve done throughout the year towards the goals on my roadmap and to get into the habit of monthly planning. As part of my monthly planning cycle I did a retro of the things I’d learned in May that had affected my ability to deliver on my goals. I don’t really have a format that works for me yet but it started me thinking about methods for retrospectives and what they should aim to achieve. I think looking back is useful but really retros should be about increasing agency and ownership in order to change the approach which then improves everything you do in the future rather than just individual process improvements.

Vanlife fail

I visited Stonehenge and found a large community of vanlifers. I wanted to hand out my flyers to ask them to do the survey but it felt really uncomfortable intruding into their community as an outsider. There’s a different between vanlifers who live in semi-permanent communities together and those who live more solitary, transient lifestyles. Some outsiders and more outsiders than others.

Blockchain and social good

This week’s lecture was about how blockchain and distributed ledger technologies are being used for social good, and posed the question, ‘should more technological development be focused on making the world a better place?’ The answer is clearly and obviously, yes. The case study was how blockchain was being used to manage commons resources and some of the resources included a sector-specific study from Stanford University and looking at Blockchain for Humanity, which is a not-for-profit foundation with the mission to drive the adoption of emerging technologies that can offer a positive social impact. There is so much possibility.

And thought about:

Hybrid meetings

I had my first hybrid meeting, with some of us in the room and some joining via video. It started me thinking about the pros and cons of hybrid meetings so I collected my thoughts into a blog post. Although I’m certain that remote, virtual, asynchronous work works best for me, that doesn’t mean there isn’t something interesting to try to figure out about hybrid working, especially if it’s likely that we’ll be working with others who do have hybrid ways of working.

Dealing with unknown unknowns

The common wisdom for dealing with unknown unknowns seems to be to adding them to a matrix with the known knowns, unknown knowns and known unknowns so you can (hopefully) identify by contrast the unknown unknowns. This way assumes that all domains of knowledge exist within that matrix, so I wondered about switch it around and putting a matrix within each domain of knowledge. Galbraith talks about how organisations deal with uncertainty and unknowns by processing more information between decision-makers as the way forward is figured out than is processed where decisions can be pre-planned. If unknowns are broken down into smaller and smaller domains of knowledge then perhaps the unknown unknowns become smaller and more specific, which might make them easier to imagine. Dealing with uncertainty and adapting to change is a capability every organisation is going to have to figure out how to build and I’m not sure there is a lot best practice in how to do that yet.

Ukrainian aviators love me

One of my most popular (I mean popular in my terms, which isn’t very popular by most people’s terms) blog posts is Schmenner’s Service Process Matrix – but for charities. It seems to show in Google searches for Schmenner, and weirdly, the Ukrainian National Aviation University link to it in one of their papers about applying the service process matrix to logistics. This amuses me.

And read this:

Maintaining Radical Focus and Staying on Strategy with OKRs

The One Knight In Product podcast episode with Christina Wodtke was really good. It seemed like a really authentic talk about when and how to use OKRs effectively rather just a sales pitch for a book. The best thing I took away was ‘Cadence is everything!’

What is digital ethics?

“No framework can possibly be complete, so it is important for employees in any organisation to examine the digital ethics dimension in any digital project they undertake.” Ethics isn’t about big dramatic decisions. Every single little decision is an ethical decision.

A thread of product management frameworks

Another thread from Shreyas Doshi, this one about product management frameworks.

Weeknotes #244

What I did this week

Roadmaps are hard

I’ve spent quite a lot of time shaping our roadmap for the projects we have coming up this year. Lots of things are still up in the air and working to different time scales so it’s an interesting challenge to get to different degrees of certainty about the goals and work required to achieve them.

Asynchronous working

I took part in the SCVO DigitShift talk about how to share ideas when you don’t share a space. It was my first time doing a talk, and although I really enjoyed it, it’s not something that comes easily to me. I think I’ll work on improving my writing (being as that’s a more async way to communicate) than my speaking.


I updated the Why Did The Chicken Cross The Road website with the latest version of the story and we chatted through some feedback to improve it for the next version. We’re trying out a rapid prototyping and fast feedback with lots of iterations approach to writing the story, which is something I’ve been thinking about for a while.

What I thought about this week:

Personal API

One type of personal API is about collecting all the data we generate from all the services we use, aggregating it and making it usable and perhaps available for others to use. That’s interesting, and probably has huge commercial potential in the future, but I’m more interested in a conceptual API that allows others to access someone else’s knowledge, ideas, processes, etc. rather than forcing a technical solution.

Hacker News | SoLiD project | A personal API | The API of Me

Doing less

I’m trying to do less. To spend more time sleeping, going for walks without a purpose, and challenge my old ways of being really efficient and effective. Everything has a culture, nothing exists in isolation. There is the culture of productivity with it’s hacks and methods for getting more done. And there is the culture of non-productivity with it’s romantic notions of layabouts and beatniks. It’s impossible to do anything or be anything without cultural referencing.

In Defense of Doing Nothing

What I read this week:

Volunteering technology

This BBC article about volunteering technology (VolTech, if you want to be tech hip) presents a few examples of volunteering apps and services but doesn’t go into any depth of thought about the considerations around decentralising volunteering. The suggestion that charities should adopt should use these kinds of technologies displays the usual lack of understanding about the difference between volunteering as an individual and volunteering through an organisation, and where responsibility lies when an organisation acts as intermediary. Charities are modes of organising people just as social movements are, but they serve very different purposes and so to suggest that tech that matches people who want to volunteer with people or organisations that want volunteers could easily meet that need in any/all circumstances seems very simplified.

Agency and taking control of your situation

If 2021 already has a theme, then for me its the tension between the individual and the collective. Everywhere I look I see that tension playing out; from protests against the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill to articles about High Agency. It wouldn’t be true to say that agency is a personal trait and so someone either has it or doesn’t regardless of the situation they find themselves in, but its also not true to say systems and structures can’t be affected by individuals. Its all very complex and so much to think about.

Service design glossary

Made Manifests Service Design glossary explains all the words.

Weeknotes #243

This week I did:


I’ve been working on a developing a process for coordinating a product roadmap and delivery plan with the operations of the teams running the training courses for young people. I haven’t quite got the strategy figured out yet but as it shapes up the biggest challenge is going to continue to be how change and adapt quickly to deliver a good enough product just in time for the course delivery.

We discussed the difference between an operating model which explains how things usually work and a support model that explains how to respond when things go wrong, so now we just need to build out those models and make them work in practice.

Why did the chicken cross the road?

I started collaborating with an old friend on writing a children’s book to answer the question, Why did the chicken cross the road? I hand-coded the website in a couple of hours (it loads in 68ms and gets 99 performance grade) and want to use it to try out ideas around ways of writing a book iteratively. The plan is to not have a plan, but to explore and figure where the project goes at each step. At the moment it’s meant to be a read-along story with an adult reading to the child and the child pressing the buttons (which is why the website needs to fast, to avoid frustration), but it might evolve into a story for older children, or into a game, or something we haven’t even imagined yet.

Digital creativity exam

I did my Digital Creativity exam, which finishes the module and means I only have one module and my dissertation left. I really enjoy studying, even though it takes lots of time I get a lot out of the pressure it applies.


This week’s Service Design course was about prototyping. We talked about rapid prototyping of digital services which involves building only enough to test your idea, and then going right back to make an improved version once you’ve gotten the feedback you need. Quite timely, I think, as it’s pretty much the approach we’re taking with Why Did The Chicken Cross The Road.

Upgraded my office

I bought a wireless keyboard which means I can have my laptop monitor up at eye height rather than looking down and getting neck and back ache. If I was still writing about being a Digital Nomad I think I’d use this to talk about how people adapt their surroundings to fit their needs and what that means when your immediate environment is more limiting and changes regularly.

I read:

Human-Centered Design Considered Harmful

Donald Norma from NN Group writes about how Human-Centred Design can be harmful when it causes designers to create for a single idealised user and so excluded others. I’ve been thinking (a little) about how the approach of designing for the extreme user and so including everyone else might work in practice. And when I say design I don’t mean ‘what a web page looks like’ (although that is part of it also), I mean how we design systems and structures and organisations to work for everyone.

Computers and Creativity

This wonderful essay by Molly Mielke, a product designer at Notion, asks the question, “How can we push digital creative tools to their full potential as co-creators, thus harnessing the full power of creative thought and computational actualization to enable human innovation?” This idea is interesting to me as I’ve been studying digital media and how it affects creativity.

Welcome to the Experience Economy

The experience economy is where commercial activities move to beyond commodities, products and services. Pine says that the difference between service and experience is how the customer regards their time. When they are accessing a service they want it to be convenient so they spend as little on it as possible. But when they engage in experiences the customer wants to make the most of their time, and will pay more for it. I wonder if the same thinking could be applied to how charities approach how services are delivered?

Speed as a habit

I believe in speed. For the advantage it offers in almost all situations, and for the tendency towards taking action and getting fast feedback that it brings. In this article is Dave Girouard talks about how, “All else being equal, the fastest company in any market will win“. Speed of decision-making is the main topic the article covers, including some of those anxieties we tell ourselves exist as reasons not to make decisions, things like dependencies, perfect knowledge, and understanding impact, all things that apply if the default decision is to not make a different decision anyhow, we just choose to ignore it.

Weeknotes #241

What I did this week

We lost our way

One of the products I’m working on, that was meant to be an MVP, has grown in size and complexity that it’s now impossible to deliver it by the deadline. I’ve mentioned a few times about keeping things simple, that we should be building a minimal viable product but I didn’t do it well enough to keep the team focused. I dropped the ball. And now we have thirteen days to get it back on track and delivered.

A couple of other projects, on the other hand, are progressing nicely and will provide some really useful learning.

Agile education

This week’s Service Design course assignment was to conduct some research to help design a service for remote learning. My research led my thoughts to Agile Education. I want there to be more to Agile in education than just Scrum in a classroom. I don’t know how the course assignment might develop and whether the idea of Agile education might affect the service design, but its something I definitely want to learn more about what it could be.

What’s the difference between a roadmap and a delivery plan?

I wrote up my thoughts on the difference between a roadmap and a delivery plan, including the difference of logic each applies. It made me think about creating a product for creating goal-based roadmaps and options for achieving the goals.

What I thought about

Divergent and convergent thinking

It’s easy enough to say we’ve finished the Discovery phase and now we’re moving into the Definition or Design phase, but changing mindsets and approaches to thinking is much harder. Moving from using divergent things when doing discovery work to convergent thinking required for design and definition work is much harder. How do you know if you’ve done it? Or if you’re still thinking creatively, coming up with ideas, exploring in a non-linear way? It isn’t easy to check your own thinking. So changing project phases is fine, but we need better communication about what that change means for our ways of thinking too.

What shouldn’t be in a digital strategy?

Ross asked the question, “What shouldn’t be in a digital strategy?” which sparked lots of discussion about what strategy is or isn’t.

I wonder if one of the hardest thing about strategy is that it means lots of different things to lots of different people. Thinking strategically is seen as a positive management trait but without any clear definition of what that means within a particular organisation. And there’s a difference between a strategy and the strategy. Maybe when people talk about the strategy they often mean the document that explains a strategy the .

What’s the purpose of a strategy, what problem does it solve for the organisation? If it is used to set direction, describe where to play and where not to play, achieve organisational alignment, etc., then it should contain what achieves that purpose. So perhaps the answer to Ross’ question is that there isn’t anything that shouldn’t be in a strategy. If having that piece of information or this level of detail helps to solve the problem that having a strategy is trying to solve, then it should be included.

How to course correct

Plan continuation bias is the problem of carrying on with a plan even as it becomes riskier and less certain to succeed. Those experiencing it find it hard to recognise and do anything about it. How might we avoid this? Talk about the plan – get other’s thoughts and feedback long before you get too far into the plan, preferably people who aren’t involved in the plan. Step back – look at other options even before you need to, be critical of your own reasoning and reasons. Don’t ignore new information – take anything new on board, try not to ignore it. Be ok with change – tell yourself it’s ok to change your mind, do something differently, and that changing a plan isn’t a failure of the first plan.

What I read this week:

Digital service to strategy

I read Bobi’s article ‘How to move digital teams from service to strategy‘ (not just because I’m mentioned in it, because it’s really interesting). One of the things I like about, and where some of my thinking is also going, is that it suggests that the usual approach to digital transformation of running an 18 month project with an end date should be replaced with digital evolution where an organisation take steps that work for them to figure out what being a digital organisation means to them. Digital transformation should look different and be unique to each organisation. That’s kind of the point with digital, it can handle variability in ways that our old mechanistic thinking and systems couldn’t.

Thinking systems: how the systems we depend on can be helped to think and to serve us better

This paper describes “methods for understanding how vital everyday systems work, and how they could work better, through improved shared cognition – observation, memory, creativity and judgement – organised as commons.” I’m reading one of Mulgan’s books on Social Innovation for my dissertation so this paper by him caught my eye. His ideas on how the collective shared intelligence of the system should be organised as a commons so that the data is more open and usable to make systems visible and graspable look really exciting.

Trauma-informed approaches

I reread “Trauma-informed approaches: What they are and how to introduce them” from NPC and did a bit more reading around the subject of trauma. Most of the literature talks about the services charities and health services provide to people dealing with things like drug addiction and domestic violence, and I couldn’t find anything about how to use trauma-informed approaches in organisational design and management.

68% of the charity sector workforce is female. 80% of all women have been publicly harassed, and 97% of 18-24 year old women sexually harassed. That’s a lot of people dealing with traumatic experiences everyday at work. So, how do we make our organisations trauma-informed? Some of the key principles for trauma-informed approaches include: recognition, resisting retraumatisation, cultural, historical and gender contexts, trustworthiness and transparency, collaboration and mutuality, empowerment, choice and control, safety, survivor partnerships and pathways to trauma specific care. I wonder how we might use those principles in how organisations manage their staff, how teams work together, and how people treat each other. Maybe the answer is that we shouldn’t have to, that society should be fairer and not misogynistic. But until that happens there must be more organisations can do.

What’s the difference between a roadmap and a delivery plan?

So many discussions must take place in digital teams about the difference between a roadmap and a delivery plan. They are very different tools that serve different purposes, and you probably need them both, but it’s easy to say one and mean the other. So, here’s what makes a roadmap different from a delivery plan.


Roadmaps are usually (or at least should be) goal-based, whether implicitly or explicitly (which is better). They state what you’re trying to achieve, hopefully because those goals will help the organisation implement its strategy for being successful.

Gov UK Roadmap
Gov UK Roadmap

A roadmap is used to prioritise the work, which means choosing what you will and won’t do. It’s logic is ‘this, not that’. As it the example above from gov.uk, some of the things that can be done to achieve the goal are being worked on now (they’re in the ‘Now’ column) and some might be worked on later, which expresses the either/or choice that roadmaps require.

Good roadmaps also express options and uncertainty. The items in the ‘Later/Future/Exploring’ column might never make it into the ‘Now’ column because as they are investigated and shaped it could be that it’s found that the option wouldn’t help to achieve the goal.

Once we have a roadmap, then we produce a Delivery Plan to describe when the work in the ‘Now’ column can be delivered.

Delivery plans

A delivery plan is used to sequence the work. It describes when the work will take place and when it is expected to be finished. It’s logic is ‘this, then that’. It helps to understand what work can happen in parallel and what is dependent on a piece of work being finished (the dependency might be technical or because people are busy).

Example of a delivery plan
An example Delivery Plan

A reliable delivery plan needs work outside of the plan to consider people’s availability and capacity and some idea of whether the work can be achieved in that length of time, otherwise it’s a bit of a guess rather than being based on facts.

Questions about roadmaps and delivery plans

Can a roadmap have dates?

Yes, it definitely can, but those dates should be for information against each of the goals, for example, ‘Goal 2 must be met by date x for this reason’.

Does a roadmap list features?

No, a roadmap isn’t just an ordered backlog. A backlog is a whole other tool that does a different job. Roadmaps help to understand what the goal is and options for how we’re going to achieve it

How far into the future or past should a roadmap show?

For as long as it takes to achieve the goal. That’s why roadmaps are often organised in columns of ‘Now’, ‘Next’, ‘Later’, ‘Done’ as they convey a past and future without being constrained to a date on a timeline.

Who should see the roadmap?

Everyone who’s work has impact or is impacted by the work that will happen to achieve the goal.

How detailed should a delivery plan be?

It shouldn’t go to the level of tasks, but it depends what other planning tools you use. If, for example, week 14 shows that an identity management solution is being developed, and the developers have user stories to take into a sprint planning session, then the delivery plan doesn’t need to be detailed.

Weeknotes #239

This week I did:

Where to invest in capabilities

I started working on a big new project that is due to go live in a couple of months. I was brought in to product manage the automation work and it’s been really interesting to get into the problems that exist with the manual processes and figure out how we can use automation technology to improve them. I’m keen that we use tools that can help us learn about automation is ways we can use in the future.

The usual, ‘a roadmap isn’t a delivery plan’ conversation came up again this week. I think the best type of roadmap for us at the moment would be one that suggests where to invest in capabilities, be that building up existing capabilities such as digital delivery or developing new capabilities in self-serve learning.

This is how high-speed project initiation goes: Mon – Opportunity to trial a new product comes up, Tue – Proposal approved & budget allocated, Wed – Put team together & wrote implementation specification, Thu – We wrote design & user research plan, and Fri – Agreed the delivery plan. One of my colleagues remarked that it was a good example of what we want to achieve by having cross-functional teams that can come together quickly to achieve something and disband when they’ve done it.

Thought about:

Organisations of Theseus

The metaphysics of identity have been questioned back to 400 bc by Plato and Heraclitus, and by many more thinkers since. The question is expressed by the story of the ship of Theseus which throughout it’s journey has every plank and rope replaced. So the question is, is it the same ship at the end of the journey as it was at the start?

The same question can be put to an organisation going through change. If all of the processes, people, branding, even the name, change over time, is it still the same organisation? There is lots of talk about strategy and culture for organisational change but not so much about identity. Perhaps organisational identity is tied to more intangible things, things like purpose, values, place in society. But these can change too.

Everyone agrees organisational change is hard. It’s hard to make happen, hard to deal with when it is happening, and hard to accept when the results aren’t what we want or expect. Maybe Heraclitus would have said that organisations are always changing, and and such never had a fixed identity anyway. I wonder if organisational change would be different if rather than talking about changing the old, we talked about building anew.

Out of business

It is not a charity’s job to put itself out of business. I’ve heard a few people say that it is recently. I completely disagree. A charity is way more that just a means of tackling a social issue, with the expectation that it should be disbanded once it has achieved . Over the life of a charity it builds up a wealth of expertise and capabilities, hard won in many cases as charities deal with all kind of difficulties, and to throw of that away when the social issue has been resolved is extremely wasteful. If a charity solves the issue it has been working on, or the need goes away or changes, charities should be able to pivot towards a different issue. They should also be able to point themselves at different problems than what they we’re originally set up to do and contribute to a different cause. I know this is a difficult because of the mindset and legal structuring of charities, but I can dream.


I had an idea for a product to encourage daily self-reflective microblogging. You’d sign-up and set-up your URL, select a template for your posts, and the time of day you’d like to write, and then you get a an email everyday to remind you to login, answer the questions on the template and post it. Each template might have three questions like ‘What went well today?, What didn’t go so well?, What could you do differently in the future?’. Now I just need someone to build it. (Of course the first thing I do is go looking for a domain name to buy…)

Individual, team, organisation

Andy Tabberer’s questions about teams always get me thinking. “I believe in a type of citizenship at work, on teams, that carries both rights and duties. Getting the balance between those two is the hardest bit. What do you think?”, he says. Well, I think it’s pretty complicated. Citizenship in the public sphere is between the individual and the state, one-to-one relationship, easy. But within an organisation there are three elements at play; the individual, the team and the organisation. So there’s relationships between individuals and other individuals, both in and outside of the team. Then there’s a relationship between the individuals and the team, and other teams, and the organisation. And teams have a relationship to other teams, and to the organisation. There’s a lot going on there. And all of those entities have rights, which differ depending on which other entity they are interacting with, and duties towards all the other entities too. Citizenship requires rights and duties, but it also needs a public space, “a shared space for discussion of values and ideas, and development of public opinion” (Habermas, 1964). I wonder if that kind of space can exist within organisations, which makes me wonder if citizenship can exist at work.

What is value?

I’m gradually reaching the conclusion that ‘value’ is purely a construct and doesn’t exist outside of that contextual agreement. Anything that someone says is ‘value’ (revenue, cost saving, time, knowledge) is just a representation of something else that they consider valuable, but that thing thing is just another representation, until the value disappears into nothing. So, what then, do we mean when we talk about organisational value? Maybe we mean it to mean outcomes but we talk about it in terms of outputs. I’m not sure. More thinking to be done.

This week I read:


The idea of standups as short regular meetings that help teams stay coordinated is a ritual that has grown out of Scrum and adopted by all kinds of teams. Jason Yip’s Patterns for Daily Standup Meetings is the ultimate reference material for everything you could want to know.

Rise of the humans

I think lots of the bigger charities are thinking about how automation how help them be more efficient (some of my work involves automation solutions for things like updating our CRM, setting up meetings, communicating with people). Ben Holt’s post on whether the British Red Cross make people happier and deliver better services by working with machines provides some interesting insight into

Responsible Use of Technology: The Microsoft Case Study

This whitepaper from the World Economic Forum on the responsible use of technology goes into how Microsoft uses tools and processes that facilitate responsible technology product design and development.

Building a copy collaboration workflow

Content is always where websites (and website build projects) fall down. This post from Ditto has some useful advice on creating a workflow for website copy.

And some people tweeted:

Digital skills change

Think Social Tech tweeted, “A thread 1/10: A brief review of research/literature on digital skills and support needs in social sector“. This is now the go-to thread for all the resources on digital change in the charity sector, including this report on Charity Digital Journeys. It’s so important that information like this is collected together and shared because those charities would would probably benefit from it the most are the least likely to even know it exists.

Digital isn’t (just) a channel

Daniel Fluskey tweeted, “Fundraising will need a mix of events – virtual, real, digital, traditional.

  1. Start with what your supporters want
  2. Choose the right event for the right audience – square pegs in round holes don’t fit
  3. Don’t get overwhelmed, you don’t have to do everything!”

Could there be a more digital-thinking tweet that isn’t about digital? I read that as, ‘start with user, meet their needs, work in small batches. That is as fantastic example of digital thinking applied to fundraising.

The 3 A’s of professional learning

John Miller tweeted, “Professional learning should hit all 3 A’s :

  1. Actual – relate to the real world. Practicality.
  2. Academic – theory and research behind the learning.
  3. Aspirational – what could be better by applying the learning. Inspire positive change.”

This seems like a better approach than the 70/20/10 thing, which I think assumes too much about knowledge existing and being shared. John’s approach . The Actual part says to me, ‘learn by doing’, which is essential when in new and changeable situations. Including an academic aspect is important. This doesn’t have to mean ‘scholarly’, it just means ‘read books and take notice of all the existing knowledge from people who have done it before’. Aspirational closes the loop (and I’m a big fan of loops). It says that we should learn about learning in order to improve how we learn and what we apply to the practical learning opportunities.

Reading list

I tweeted, “30 things I’ve read recently about AI, business value, design, remote work, resilience, leadership, innovation, maps, product teams, personas, digital media, cyber security, purposeful careers, organisational change, literacy & complexity.” It followed on from a few discussions about learning digital skills so I thought I’d try to get into the habit of sharing my reading list for the week. As I don’t have any knowledge of my own, maybe people can benefit from me sharing other people’s knowledge.