Weeknotes 341

This week I did:

Technology strategy planning

If “where are we going to play?” and “how are we going to win?” are the two questions a strategy is expected to answer, then for a charity that operates first and foremost in online spaces and with digital experiences, technology is a big part of the answer. The three things the technology strategy needs to achieve are ensuring the tech meets a need, enhancing capabilities and ensuring business continuity. And this week I’ve been working on how to turn the approach the strategy provides into a plan for doing the work to achieve those goals. The piece that was puzzling me, came to me in my sleep, so now I feel like I’ve got a pretty good handle of it. Now I’ve just got to figure out how to communicate my understanding in ways that make sense to others.

Complexity chat

Had an inspiring chat with Richard Collings about our shared interest in systems design and complexity. The thing that stuck with me most was how connected technical system design is to changes in the behaviours, mindsets and values of the people using the system, and how important it is to consider changes at all levels in order to for the change to be successful. Usually, all that falls below the line of visibility is just called ‘culture change’, so it’s interesting to consider that there might be better tools and a more structured approach.

Four day working week

I’ve been experimenting with a four day working week (actually just using up leave days by taking Fridays off). This is only the second week, so I don’t have much to reflect on, but the hardest thing for me is in letting go of needing to be available so to not to become a blocker. I generally work pretty asynchronously anyway, so not sure why I have that hang-up.

I read:

Writing Culture Challenges

“A write-and-reading-and-feedback-giving culture requires time to think, process, and respond. Writing isn’t the end goal: thinking and improving is the goal.” ‘Nuff Said! (as Nina and Stan said).

From Laudable List to How to Really Win

The heart of strategy is a matched pair — a place to compete where a company designs an approach that enables it to win. Sadly, most strategic plans do not do so. Rather, they make lists of initiatives which the company will pursue.” Or, strategic as a decision-making tool, not a to do list.

Service design for wicked problems

Deep Diving into Service Design Problems: Visualizing the Iceberg Model of Design Problems through a Literature Review on the Relation and Role of Service Design with Wicked Problems”. Can product management tackle wicked problems?

And I thought about this week:

Charity product management and maturity models

I wonder whether existing maturity models, like those designed for software development, could be applied to adopting a discipline like product management in a charity. The models aren’t perfect, they’d need some adaption as they often seem to depict the perfect state of each phase without going into the signals we might notice to suggest whether change is happening in the right direction or seeing maturity as a constantly developing process, rather than the ‘freeze/unfreeze’ concept of change. I guess I see it like a roadmap for product thinking in charities and a way for a charity to compare itself against a context-specific measurement framework.

Product management is too inward-looking

So much product talk is around how to improve your roadmap. These are all tactical-level marginal gains for high-performing teams. They aren’t what can have the biggest impact on product management delivering value for the organisation and it’s users. To have more impact, product managers need to spend more time looking at what’s going on outside the organisation. And they need to have the techniques for doing so.