Weeknotes 312

Photo of the week:

Pile of well-balanced rocks. That makes one of us.

This week I did:

Products and services as tools for change

Some members of the digital and innovation team have been working on defining how our products, service, systems and projects fit together. It’s fascinating work and has made me think about the question from lots of different angles. Once of those is about how, as a social change charity, we use products and services as tools for change. How do we design services in ways that help people help themselves rather than making them dependent on the service? How do we create products that have a goal of making themselves no longer needed because the user problem has been solved?

On the duty of system disobedience

This week’s irregular idea took Thoreau’s essay, ‘On the duty of civil disobedience’ and tried to apply some modern systems thinking to help us be sceptical of all the systems that affect us and how although we might not be able to do much to affect the systems we are in, we should try to be part of creating a vision for future systems.


I thought about, chatted about and wrote about the usefulness of cohesion in strategy and strategic thinking. It often seems like the missing element. Lots of random ideas and efforts isn’t a strategy. What makes them into a strategy is that they are cohesive.

555 stiles and 300 places

I reached 555 stiles for stiles.style and 300 places on my trip around the coast of England, Wales and Scotland.

I read:

Managing Without Profit

I found Mike Hudson’s brilliant book on the art of managing third sector organisations in a little bookshop, and although I’ve only read a little it seems really straight-up. I’m looking forward to reading more.

Digital mindset: A whistlestop tour

This post describes the qualities which Catherine How use to define the digital mindset. There are some excellent points, like “Digital is not a spectator sport and it favours people who can both think and do.”, “Networked power is more organisationally porous, purpose driven and is less controllable than hierarchical power.” and “being open with ideas is both a cultural quality of the social web but also a core capability for collaborative working”. Absolutely brilliant stuff.

The 4 Key Problems that hinder growth in Platforms and Marketplaces

This article is interesting because so many products try to be marketplaces without really understanding what it means. Take Betterhelp, for example, a marketplace product for connecting clients and therapists. What kind of therapists would use such a platform? Those that can’t get a full set of clients in real life. What kind of clients would use such a platform? Those who might struggle to access a therapist in real life. So, the platform brings together the worst of the therapists with the most in-need clients. The result is unreliable therapists not turning up to sessions, leaving the platform without any closure for the clients, and generally a really poor therapeutic service that has the potential to do more harm than good. Marketplace products are really difficult to get right.

UK Digital Strategy

The UK Digital Strategy is an interesting read (well, if you’re interested in digital and strategy). The structure of the document is an overall goal (UK must strengthen its position as a Global Science and Tech Superpower), the six areas of focus (Digital foundations, Ideas and intellectual property, Digital skills and talent, Financing digital growth, Spreading prosperity and levelling up, Enhancing the UK’s place in the world), and then within each of those the different things that will be done are listed. As a strategy document is clearly shows the breakdown of how the goal should be achieved, but it lacks any measures or feedback loops that would signal whether the strategy is achieving it’s goal.

And I thought about:

Product thinking is…

I like John Cutler’s definition, product thinking is structured problem-solving and decision-making. I think that product management is applying the scientific method to organisations, it’s about creating a shift away from guessing and opinion to evidence and analysis.

The difference between a million and billion

A million seconds is 12 days. A billion seconds is 31 years. That’s how different they are. It’s hard to intuit from just the words and shows how difficult we find it to think in scales.

Accessible business info

Google Maps business listings should contain accessibility information. Things like whether premises are able to be accessed by wheelchairs, whether they have a hearing loop installed, provide tactile maps, etc., could be added.