Weeknotes 354

This week I did:

Opportunities for change

Been thinking about and diagramming a lot about organisational change. Change is always happening, but of course, directionless change is a bad idea for an organisation. So, how to create direction without a prescriptive, top down “programme”? How to be stigmergic and create those coordination signals?

I’ve been trying to come up with some kind of guiding principles to offer that direction. These are based on the eight areas of focus Laura Bunt suggests in her post on the public digital blog.

One of those principles is about being user-centred, and this week I saw an opportunity for tackling a problem in a way that could not only solve the obvious problem, but also done in a way that increases how user-centred we are. And there were two opportunities for improving digital skills and being problem-focused.

This is the kind of stigmergic change I think we should focus on. Not some grand plan for transformation, but creating the right circumstances for change to happen in the right direction.

And I read:

How to make ChatGPT part of your charity’s digital strategy

Nick wrote an interesting blog post with ChatGPT about ChatGPT. I think charities should explore using emerging tech more, but there’s lots to consider. When charities struggle with established tech, how can they possibly invest in new? I guess the answers are (among others) that new tech is great for leap frogging old tech, that different tech does different jobs, and that if charities don’t learn how to use new tech and innovate, then they’ll keep falling farther and farther behind.

Revolutionizing Performance Management: The Rise of Performance Enablement

This article about revolutionizing performance management is disappointingly un-revolutionary. It’s just about using more technology to do the same old stuff. It still considers performance management to be about individuals. It still focuses on getting individuals to be productive and doesn’t reflect the direct for modern knowledge work. There’s nothing about how essential teams are, or about creating the right systems and environment for success, or about delivering value. If this is the best thinking in HR then we all need help.

Accessibility resources

Handy list of accessibility resources.

I thought about:

Product vision

Did a lot of thinking about product vision, what purpose it serves, how to create good ones. I’m against the aspirational statement of intent -type product visions that fit on one slide. I don’t think that solves the problem vision is trying to solve, the problem of aligning people and teams. So, as a tool for alignment, product visions are boundary objects. That means they are used in different domains of knowledge and so need to be robust enough to hold certain information whatever perspective they are looked at from, but flexible enough that they can be interpreted from those different knowledge domains. An example might be that someone from the finance team can look at the product vision and understand what it means from a financial perspective, and some from a sales team can understand what it means for sales. So, product visions aren’t just nice-to-have, aspirational statements, they are an essential tool for aligning different strategies for achieving the vision. What I don’t know yet, is how to create them.

Product-market fit

Product-market fit is just as much of a problem within an organisation as it is for products and services an organisation builds for (potential) users. We still invest way too much time and effort in building things that no one will use. More validation, that’s what we need. Not just showing potential, but actual fit.

How agile?

I know I shouldn’t, but I wondered how I’d answer a question about measuring agility in an organisation. Something like, ‘how do you tell how agile an organisation is?’ The obvious, and unsatisfactory, answer is to look at the outcomes an organisation achieves, but there are a few problems with that approach. Firstly, it’s a lagging indicator, you can’t tell what affect increasing organisational agility achieved until some time after changes are made. And secondly, there is nothing to reliably compare against because you don’t know what you might have achieved if you weren’t agile.

The best I’ve come up with so far is how important improvement is within the organisation. If continuous, incremental improvement is number one priority, if the board are constantly asking how that thing can be better, if the leaders have robust feedback loops in place for improving things and spend more time talking about improvement than delivery, if teams have processes for measuring improvement efforts, then the organisation is very agile. If improvement is hardly even talked about, then the organisation is not agile.