Weeknotes 358

This week I did:

Matrix systems thinking

I worked on a lot of internal things this week, including project prioritisation, risk management, incident management, personal data processing and product ownership. It’s interesting to work on these kinds of things and think about how to design them to support our ways of working. Most essential is matrix working, how different teams and skill sets work together, often in dynamic teaming. Creating things that hold information in isolated silos and don’t share practices and progress is going to create problems, so not designing them to work that way from the start is good system design.

I read:

Definition of Done

Interesting way to think about creating specific definitions of done. Creating definitions of done, as a practice, is one of those things that makes you think about the work before doing the work. Same applies with adoption plans, they make us think about how we’ll get people using a product before we spend time building it. It’s very different from planning all the work upfront, it’s about focusing on the valuable aspects of the work.

Best Practices are Useless in Complex Systems

Ambiguity is not an obstacle to be overcome but the water we all swim in. Thriving in that ambiguity and facilitating positive change requires us to rethink our design strategies, organizational structures, and collaborative dynamics because we cannot control the future — only how quickly we learn and respond to it.” Emergent practices are where it’s at. Definitely not using pre-designed process that don’t fit your context.

The Power of Cross-Disciplinary Learning

Cross-disciplinary learning, or what I call adjacencies, is a very interesting part of modern digital work. Everyone works better if they know a bit about what everyone else on the team does. It helps to break down information silos because when someone explains their work, others understand what they mean.

And I thought about:

Pre product/market fit in charities

Product/market fit is one of those fundamental product management concepts that struggles with definition, other than you know it when you see it. The same applies for product/market fit in charities, you know it when you see it. There are external signals, such as how many people are using it, and there are internal signals, such as the product team using fixed approaches, processes and tools. When a charity is in the pre- product/market fit stage there is more exploring opportunities, experimenting with solutions, failing fast. Product teams are flexible with their approaches and processes because fixing things too soon makes achieving product/market fit so much harder.

Refining work

When thinking about getting work ready, its useful to connect levels of uncertainty to time horizons. So, what we’re achieving this quarter is deliberately vague so that we don’t shut down opportunities too early. What we’re focused on this month has more definition as the opportunities are explored. This way of thinking about work aligns with the product thinking around roadmaps (Now, Next, Later and Radar). And it makes me think there could be an x/y graph with degree of definition on the x axis and time horizons along the y axis. Diagonally through the graph is the line of best fit for reaching the right definition at the right time. And either side of that line are the warning zones of defining too early or too late. Too early prevents opportunities from being explored, too late creates confusion and lack of focus.

Arguing over tactics

The remote work vs office work argument flared up on Twitter recently. And it is an argument, not a debate. Both sides just defend their position without trying to understand each other. They argue over tactics for achieving organisational success without a strategy. Better to decide what you’re trying to optimise for and then design how an organisation works to achieve that.