Weeknotes 327

This week I did:

Continuous improvement

We started an experiment in taking a continuous improvement approach with a live product. I’m a believer in continuous improvement because the underpinning theory (always go to the source) makes a lot of sense to me. The continuous improvement approach we’re taking is based on Goldratt’s theory of constraints. It says that, whatever your goal, you have only one biggest barrier preventing you from achieving it. You have other barriers too, but only one of them is the biggest. Identifying and removing that barrier will have the greatest impact on achieving the goal. Then your second biggest barrier becomes the biggest. In my head, I see the barriers as a pareto distribution where quite quickly you reach a point of removing barriers only giving marginal returns, and where the efforts to reach the goal at as good as they can be. So, although continuous improvement achieves goals by removing barriers, it also identifies that optimal end state where the product has reached maximum value.

Be more fox

This week’s irregular ideas was about not tying ourselves to a single big idea about how the world works. Instead, we might do better to have lots of smaller, different ideas and more flexible worldviews.

The platform charity conundrum

A few thoughts on the challenges of charities using self-reinforcing loops in platform business models. If the loop is always self-reinforcing, then it depends on the problem the charity is tackling getting worse not better, which would mean the charity is failing, hence the conundrum. Since writing this two thoughts have occurred. One mentioned by Nick about how impact (solving the problem) is represented in the model, and another about how the role of the charity (as an organisation) is to turn a positive self-reinforcing loop into a negative self-reinforcing loop.

A system-shifting approach to new product development

I’ve been gradually thinking about how to take some of the system-shifting product management thinking into more practical tools, and this New Product Development process is a step towards creating a process that isn’t user-centred or linear and involves more actors and affects systems to create change.


I’ve manged to write a blog post every day so far (which is only four days, so not saying much). I’ve previously thought that I want my blog posts to be like well researched mini essays, and NaBloPoMo gives me an excuse to write posts that are more about exploring ideas, work in progress, not well polished. I’m also trying to take on some of the advice I’ve read recently about changing my definition of done (because a reader will never know what it was anyway) and writing more like I talk (or in my case, more like I think).

And I read:

Designing good digital stuff

Read a few things around designing good digital stuff.

Maturity models

I’ve been reading and thinking about maturity models, and how to resolve the problem of maturity models always being an output that doesn’t correlate to organisational outcomes.

Sign Language in Virtual Reality

I read this and this about sign language in virtual reality.

And thought about:

Teams don’t have a brain (but they might have a Brian)

If the team is the unit of delivery, self-contained, autonomous, empowered even, but it doesn’t have a brain, how does it coordinate, remember, decide, act? These things happen because individuals have brains, and they do things like document information, make decisions, do work. Does a team behaviour less like a unit and more like a murmuration of starlings responding to signals from others in the team? If so, what might be the behaviours that the team should be aware of and respond to?


Thought a bit about the second part of my mini exploration into how to ask better questions. If one type of question is aimed at gathering information and the second type is about encouraging thinking, then perhaps the overarching guiding principle is that good questions are about curiosity. They express the asker’s curiosity and encourage the answerer’s curiosity. A question phrased as a statement can be a good question if it’s doing the work of encouraging curiosity. And a statement phrased as a question isn’t encouraging curiosity, it’s shutting it down.

Birds vs elephants

Maybe Twitter is seeing an extinction level event. And some people in my Twitter bubble are setting up Mastodon accounts that they may or may not use. Always good to hedge your bets. And perhaps an opportunity for us all to make more intentional choices.

For me, the interesting question is about the future of social media platforms, and especially really large social media platforms. From a user’s experience point-of-view, RLSMP’s always feel like niche bubbles (Product Twitter, Charity Twitter, etc.) but there’s always an underlying effect of social interaction at scale, which human beings aren’t equipped to understand. So, maybe the next evolution will be to small, loosely coupled, groups (I hesitate to use the term “communities”) where the group is more able to control unwanted behaviour. One of things I’ve learned about online communities (from being a moderator of a few) is that activity equals leadership. The most active participants are the ones that set the tone for the community, create the culture of what’s acceptable, and generally keep the community alive. All communities need these people, without them the communities stagnate and die off, but well-functioning communities also have a way of getting the right (most acceptable to the community) people into those positions.