Weeknotes 315

Photo of the week:

Calm seas for a morning swim.

This week I did:

Ordered thinking

Some of my focus this week was on goals and priorities, and helping us order them to guide where we focus our efforts and measure what we’re achieving. The simplest way to bring order to things is to put them into a list, one that is ranked from most to least important, but it’s also the hardest as it’s difficult to know how to decide whether one item on the list is more or less important than any other. Sometimes, a certain amount of vagueness and non-commitment is useful.

A brief history and future of moving fast and breaking things

This week’s Irregular Ideas was a bit boring. I couldn’t think of a good idea, so I used an old idea of where the concept of first-mover advantage came from and how it’s used in silicon valley start-up culture and being used in some of the thinking of longtermism.

Fixing things

It’s been a week of fixing hosting and domain name issues. I bought the cool short domain on rjs.pm but then Afnic (they manage the domain name registry in France including .pm domains) contacted me to say that I can’t have a .pm domain unless I live in an EU territory (thanks Brexit). So now I have to argue with 123-reg, who I registered the domain name with because they didn’t tell me that .pm domains are restricted by location when I bought it. Part of the problem of managing domain names, apart from the awful customer service from the providers, is that there doesn’t seem to be one single provider that can manage all domain extensions, which means I have to have them spread across different companies. And the hosting provider for my website contacted me to tell me that I was in breach of their acceptable use policy and they were going to shut the site down because the large backup files, which their system generates, was stored where they system stores them. They sent me a very unhelpful email telling me that they recommend not storing files in their file storage, something they’ve never told me in all the years I’ve been with them. Good example of a poor company blaming it’s customers because they haven’t set up their systems correctly. The lesson here is don’t use TSOHost. I really need to find a better provider.

I read/listened to:

Exploring Product Management in Nonprofits

Or, exploring how someone who isn’t a product manager in a nonprofit but sells software to nonprofits suggests that nonprofits should use data better and has a book you can buy about it. For anyone who doesn’t know what product managers in nonprofits do, this is a pretty limited representation. Product managers don’t just manage fundraising technology (although in some nonprofits they do that too), they are trying to tackle complex wicked problems. Simple tools and frameworks like OKR’s just don’t work in nonprofits because the change those products managers are trying to achieve could be twenty years away, and be the result of many contributions from many different things.

This work can’t wait

Ideo’s website about their efforts to design responsibly fits nicely with the Design Council’s Systems-shifting design, which is the basis of ideas for systems-shifting product management. Maybe there’s a lesson in naming and branding something that I should apply to systems-shifting product management (I mean, who the hell knows what that is).

A Designer and a Product Manager walk into a Knowledge Base

I found this reflection on how products get built in the Canadian government really interesting. It illustrates how changing one thing, such as hiring a designer and product manager, requires lots of other things to also change, multi-disciplinary teams, planning, validating need, etc., otherwise the benefits of having those roles on a team doesn’t get realised. Either everything changes or nothing changes.

How much time people spend online

This tweet surprised me. Because being online pretty much all the time feels normal to me, it’s easy to forget that most people don’t use the Internet in a digitally native way.

And I thought about:

Messy maps

I wondered whether user journey maps should be simplified, neat, easily communicable versions of a user journey, or whether they should express the messiness of the user’s real life experience. Both tackle similar problems, but probably for different audiences. I think I tend towards favouring the messy maps, at least to start with. Starting with the idealised neat version feels like it might miss things.

Spiky skill sets

In the workplace, communication and presentation are table stakes skills. And we expect someone to have those skills on par with their specialist discipline skills. Whatever area someone works in they are expected to be about to talk about their work in ways others will understand, be engaging and inspire confidence. People on the autistic spectrum can often be really good at some things and really bad at others, whereas more neurotypical people tend to develop skills in clusters at similar levels, which poses the question about how to a) know what skills are expected and b) accelerate learning of things that ambiguous.

Work by value not hours

I like the idea of work being judged by the value it provides rather than the hours it takes. Maybe the same thinking applies to time off from work. Just number of days off isn’t really a good measure of the value provided. I wonder what is?

Problems and pre-mortems

Although I like the peer-to-peer ideal, some problems can’t be resolved in that kind of person-to-person way. The solution is usually an intermediary, an organisation, which takes responsibility for things individuals can’t or won’t take responsibility for. It attempts to provide the bigger things like service reliability, security, safety, conflict resolution. I wonder if one day we’ll find a way for peer-to-peer systems to emerge at scale and be able to provide those bigger things for themselves.