Weeknotes 345

This week I did:

Test and learn

I struggled (well, failed actually) to introduce test and learn practices to a project. I think it would be really useful to test the riskiest assumptions we have about the proposition and user experience but sometimes making a thing that appears finished is more important, I get that. I shall consider this attempt a test and learn from it. It made me think about the difference between adopting a well-defined process or framework and introducing a way of thinking about things. Both have their pluses and minuses, but generally I tend towards the way of thinking approach. I wonder if the framework approach is a necessary step to help internalise the thinking before you can work with ways of thinking about things. Expecting someone to question their default way of thinking, challenge it positively, and learn, accept and put into practice a new way, all whilst actually doing the work to progress the project, is a big ask.

What technology does to expertise

I wrote an Irregular Ideas post about how as technology becomes more advanced it creates opposite poles of expertise, with really high skilled experts creating the technology at one end and really low skilled workers at the other, and with the technology in between. It’s the first post I’ve written in a few months, so I’ll probably keep Irregular Ideas ticking along and occasionally write something when it occurs to me.

And I read:

Evolution, Cupcakes, and Skeletons

What’s the best way to deliver and grow systems? Interesting question. Is the answer different to, what’s the best way to deliver and grow products? Thinking about product development as a way to intervene in systems is really interesting to me. And their are plenty of systems to intervene in, those within organisations and those outside (until we breakdown that boundary and see all the systems together).

Roadmap questions

John Cutler produced yet another fantastic resource for uncovering the complexity of the work. 40 (multiple choice) questions you should be able to (eventually) answer about each item on your roadmap provides product managers with things to think about that might help them improve the quality of understanding about the items on their roadmap. I can see it being used in product coaching sessions to prompt thoughts, someone will probably build a UI over it that gives you a score, and product managers will be using it to challenge non-product thinking in their organisations.

Thought about this week:

Product manager skills

Parv tweeted asking about what skills an entry-level product manager should have. A lot of the replies seemed like ‘organisational navigational’ skills rather than specific to product managers (which made me think about what an over-reliance on these kinds of skills says about an organisation’s culture). For me, the most fundamental product skill a product manager needs is scientific thinking, the ability to thinking logically and critically through the steps of the scientific method to reach valid conclusions. It’s a skill that can be applied in all kinds of contexts from a feature solving a particular problem to an entire business model.

Ideas that stick, win

I know we all know this, but the best ideas don’t win. The ideas that win are those that people find easy to understand, talk about, use. This follows on from last week’s thoughts about creating new knowledge and legitimising it into accepted practice. The tension between the dynamic and the static is everywhere. The best, most brilliant, most worthy ideas are useless if no one uses them. That’s why we have marketing.