Weeknotes 337

Did this week:

Data strategy

I’ve been working on creating a framework and project process for some data strategy work. The framework has three dimensions. Thirteen ‘strategic themes’ to tie the work to the organisational roadmap, five ‘use cases’, which describe what we do with data; generate, collect, manage, analyse and utilise, and six ‘change areas’; leadership, skills, data, culture, tools and uses. This gives us 390 intersections where we can make improvements.

The project process uses an improvement kata approach to understand a challenge, identify the current condition, define the next target condition, and then experiment towards achieving it. This approach gives us the greatest flexibility to experiment with improving things at each intersection of the three dimensions without getting blocked by other projects and dependencies.


Kanban Pocket Guide

I’ve started reading the Kanban pocket guide. The first chapter talks about how the most important aspect of Kanban, more important than limiting WIP or visualising work, is item age. The longer an item is hanging around not being delivered, the longer it takes to get feedback on it to find out if it’s of value.

Agile vs. Waterfall (And Other Obfuscation)

Increasingly, I dislike the duality of agile vs. waterfall. Both are just techniques which fit organisational environments to greater or lesser degree. And as Charles Lambdin says, the goal is delivering value, not being agile. His post refers to agile vs. waterfall as alternative options vs. path dependency and sums up a lot of current good practice thinking in achieving business agility.

Failing like a scientist

I’ve thought for a while that product management is the application of the scientific method to an organisational context, so it’s interesting to read a post about viewing failed experiments (which is only one step in the scientific method) differently from the traditional view of failure as an end state, after which nothing more should happen.

Thought about:

Muda mura muri

I’ve started reading about the three forms of waste to help me figure out how they apply to knowledge work. I think maybe context switching is motion waste in muda, and confusion is definitely some kind of waste, but I’m not sure which type, maybe muri.

Three-dimensional visualisation

I’ve noticed a pattern in my strategic systems thinking that visualises the work in three dimensions. That makes it harder to show other people or explain how it works, but essentially it’s like a big Rubik’s cube where you can find a single point by following the x, y and z axes. The three axes in the data strategy thinking I’ve been doing are ‘strategic theme’ (volunteering, people, etc.),and ‘use case’ (generate, create, manage, analyse, utilise) and ‘change area’ (leadership, culture, skills, tools, data and uses). So, by picking from one of each we create a piece of improvement work, for example, ‘Improve volunteer’s data management tools’.

Listening to Melvin

Fifty five years ago Melvin Conway warned against shipping the org chart. Today, we’re still doing it. Doesn’t matter whether the marketing team is separate from the product team or one cross-functional team is separate from another, not working in silos seems almost impossible. But what makes a silo? Maybe it’s whatever defines a team, things like identity, belonging, incentives. Where these things differ, lines are drawn, boundaries are established, and silos are created.