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.
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.
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.