Weeknotes 295

This week I did:

Full team

The last hire and our team is complete. Just in time for the start of the new financial year, almost like we planned it. We’ve been doing a lot of work to figure out how we want to work as a team. It’s really interesting to watch the application of the methods and techniques to the job of questioning and improving those methods and techniques. This work has also shown me my tendency to apply abductive reasoning (fundamental to an agile approach), and I have to make a conscious effort to apply inductive reasoning to make the work make sense, but it’s good to challenge myself with such things.

The future of leadership

This week’s edition of Irregular Ideas explores how stigmergy rather than strategy can be used to coordinate the behaviours of large groups and how in the future it might be algorithms doing the coordinating and leading.

Blog posts

I’ve started a few blog posts, which I might finish one day soon. One is a quick guide for creating QR codes and another is for using Microsoft Planner. I haven’t written anything about system-shifting product management for a while, but I have been doing some research to better understand the thinking beneath it all.

I read:

The Product Field Reference Guide

There’s a lot to read and understand in The Product Field Reference Guide. Described as “a shared vocabulary, comprehensive model, and tested tool-box for collaborative product thinking.” That “will help you create a shared big picture, foster alignment, explore success factors and potential for improvement, and lift your product to the next level of innovation.” My interest is in how it refers to product development in terms of systems, adaptive behaviours and dynamic networks.

Abolish racist language

Intuit’s Content Design System, and especially the section on racist language, is fantastic. I saw a tweet about why organisations usually default to creating their own version of something that exists rather than making use of that. My answer to that is that these things are always solving unique problems for the organisation even if they look like the same problem to an outsider, and that unique problem can only be solved by building something themselves. Design systems are an interesting example. Are design systems all the same or all different? What problem do design systems really solve?

My reading list


And thought about:

Product tools

I’m interested in how, in general, we turn to solutions to solve problems we don’t understand, and more specifically, turn to complicated software to do simple things, that we probably also don’t understand. Product roadmaps and task management is a great example, perhaps because products managers are easily prone to turning to software to solve problems (after all, building things that do that is their job). I’m increasingly convinced that if you can’t explain your roadmap in a simple text format, then you don’t understand it. And using a complicated software tool isn’t going to bring clarity, it’s going to create more confusion and hide that confusion at the same time. So, I’m setting myself the task of being able to explain RNID’s roadmap in the simplest of terms. And then I’ll see if I can add more detail to it without losing clarity.

Sector-wide learning

I’ve been thinking about approaches to learning within teams that focus on shorter feedback loops and learning from doing (more andragogical than pedagogical). And I thought about a bit about how the same kind of thinking could be applied at a sector level by starting with where the results of that learning could be held for others to learn from. There are a lot more factors at play for an entire sector than for an organisation, some of which are mentioned in the replies to that tweet, which makes it a more interesting problem. One of those interesting aspects is demand. All of the replies were on the supply side (obviously given the question in the tweet) but I wonder if the reason that a lot of org-to-org learning doesn’t go on is because those orgs just don’t want it (whether they’d benefit from it is a separate question). If there was a demand, perhaps a solution would emerge to meet it. So, maybe the first step within organisations and between them is to create demand, create a desire for learning.


Of course it’s right for an organisation to hire the most suitable person for a role. The right person is almost certainly the one that has the most skills and experience, which they have because of being given previous opportunities in which they were judge to be the right person. And the person who is less right is probably judged so because they have fewer skills and less experience, because they’ve been given fewer opportunities in the past. When one person (or type of person) is lifted up, another (or another type) is pushed down. It’s never the case that the one who isn’t lifted up stays where they are. That’s the seesaw. It’s a big problem.