Weeknotes 319

Photo of the week:

Clouds over the hills at sunset

This week I did:

Just enough process

There’s a pattern in digital teams (and I think in startups too) where to start with everyone coordinates just by talking about the work. Then over time, as the team grows and the work gets more complex, processes are added to take over the coordination. Then, later still, those processes become so embedded and built up in layers that they create barriers to coordination. I think we’re at stage two, starting to add more process to handle more complex coordination. The challenge is to figure out how to get just enough process so that it doesn’t become a barrier.

The coastline paradox

I wrote about the coastline paradox, the idea that the length of an irregular shape (like an island) increases the more closely you measure it, and applied it to setting big goals and taking small steps towards them. The paradox is that the smaller the steps you take, the further away the goal gets.


This week’s thread was about strategy, posthumanism, writing, subscription models, fractals, blockchain, digital transformation, teams, DAOs, design, circular economy and newsletters. I realised that there is no way to know if something is good compost or not. Or, to put it another way, one person’s good compost is another person’s pollution. That isn’t an excuse for not being discerning about the compost you create, but it does require some judgement.

Just keep swimming

Swam in the sea a few times this week. Luckily for me I’m not near any of the beaches that have suffered sewerage dumping. The sea is still pretty warm, and floating there watching the sun set is my mind gym.

And I read:

Open working toolkit

Third Sector Lab’s and CAST’s Open working toolkit is really cool.

Organizational boundary problems: too many cooks or not enough kitchens?

Elizabeth Ayer’s article on open working cultures and some of the issues that can arise is also really cool.

The Three Speeds of Collaboration: Tool Selection and Culture Fit

Erin ‘Folletto’ Casali writes about the three ‘speeds’ of communication and collaboration; sync, async and storage, which is also really cool.

Thought about:

People’s agenda

This week was one of those ‘remember where you were when’ weeks. The Queen died. After 70 years on the throne. It’s interesting how events like this are used to push people’s own agendas. I guess broadly there are two view; establishment and anti-establishment. The establishment pays tribute to the person who was Queen, the anti-establishment critiques the institution of the monarchy, and its involvement in colonialism, for example. Both can be true. And respectful. And necessary.

One step ahead

If leadership is about getting a step ahead and then getting others to that step, then perhaps there are two ways. The more traditional leadership approach takes that step forward and then calls back for others to follow, “Follow me, this is the way”. This is ‘tell’ leadership. The way is that the leader takes that step and asks others to follow, “Have I gone the right way?” This is ‘ask’ leadership. Either might me applicable in different circumstances stances, but only ‘ask’ leadership has in-built feedback loops that make it more relevant and effective in changing and uncertain situations.

The scientific method is first principle thinking product managers

The more I think about it the more I think that the scientific method is a first principle for product management. As a way of moving from the unknown to knowledge, uncertainty to slightly less uncertainty, in a structured way, and applicable at any level and scale, there isn’t anything to match it. To me, the six steps of observation, research, hypothesis, experiment, analysis, conclusion are core competencies for every product manager.