Did this week:
You don’t know what you don’t know. So you don’t know what you need to know. And you don’t know what you might need to know in the future. These are the challenges of documenting and sharing knowledge. Luckily, async working helps as to do it well you have to think carefully about what people need to know upfront (sync working often relies on finding what people don’t know and then telling them) which creates documentation as it goes. I think the default concept we go to of some kind of database or library, but that treats all documentation the same, which means it loses context and history. I prefer to think about the ways we can create ‘trails’ of decisions made, knowledge created, ideas explored. Documents have links to earlier, relevant documents, which link to earlier documents, creating a network of knowledge not unlike the internet. You should be able to start with the most recent and click back in time to the first document. This preserves the timeline of knowledge being created.
How complex systems succeed
This week’s Irregular Ideas was about complex systems and how although they should fail, they succeed. The biggest factor seems to be people finding ways around problems and keeping things running.
Held up my streak of writing a blog post each day for eleven days so far. Only nineteen to go. So far I’ve written about how setting outcomes depends on having a reliable mental model of how the world works, how having lots of work in progress might create naturally occurring work in progress limits, and how the three big risks of product, being valuable, viable and feasible, might change for product management in charities.
Framing the future
Watched some of the Framing the Future Symposium livestreams about where web3 might be heading.
This paper is about building high performing fluid teams, which are teams that have “unstable membership that organisations create and hold responsible for one or more outcomes”. It describes seven situations which might prompt an organisation to choose fluid teams over stable cross-functional teams, which is important to understand because how well teams perform always depends on the environment they’re working in. It makes me want to work on my Magix Teams project again.
Why we need skeptics
Because sceptics don’t accept the truth of something as self-evident. Sceptics help us keep an honest and healthy organisational culture. They continuously challenge, seek balance in their points of view.
Decision-making methods: a comparison
There are five decision-making methods, autocratic decisions, majority vote, unclear decision-making, consensus and consent. Considering how many decisions we make, how important some of those are, and generally how bad we are at making decisions, we should probably all understand these a bit better.
If you know what digital transformation looks like, you’re wrong. Defining things upfront is a sign of old, analog ways of thinking. It implies predictability and doing things in a sequence. The reason so many digital transformation programmes in organisations fail is because they use old thinking to do something new. You have to approach digital transformation from a digital, agile perspective where work is unique and unknowable, and progresses iteratively based on what has been learned along the way. And, I think, you have to incorporate concepts like pacing layers which tells us that different things change at different rates. Replacing old technology with new works at one pace, replacing old knowledge with new works at an entirely different pace.
Digital charity community
The imminent potential demise of Twitter got me thinking about how the platform isn’t the community, but that the community can’t exist with out a platform. There are lost of platforms out there for the digital charity community; websites, email newsletters, Whatsapp groups, LinkedIn Reddit, Quora, Facebook, Slack, Discord, maybe even Mastodon. The challenge isn’t about getting everyone in one place (Twitter didn’t do that anyway), the challenge is connecting people, ideas, content across different places. One of the things I’ll miss most if Twitter goes is discovering blog posts people have written, articles they’ve shared, ideas they had, things they’re working on. This seems like a hard thing to replace, no obvious solution occurs to me yet. Digital communities aren’t just people talking to people, they are so much more than that.
Start with who
You can start with why if you like, I’ll start with who. When you know who, really know, and really who, then figuring out the behaviours and then how to effect them makes more sense. User story mapping is probably one of my most favourite tools for figuring out problems, because it forces you to answer “who?”. If you don’t the story collapses. I want to get better at user story mapping.