Weeknotes 363


Digital asset management

More internal focused work this week. This time on a digital asset management system. It lead to me thinking about a two-by-two grid to describe where product managers focus. On one axis are the internal and external barriers to success, and on the other axis are the enablers to success, which I’ve broadly called Discovery and Delivery.

A product manager could be focused only on the internal delivery quadrant, where they are taking business requirements and delivering features. Or they could be focused on external discovery, where they are figuring out how government policy or competitor products affect their product and organisation. Good product management needs a balance across all four quadrants.


I’ve started listing all the different things I work on each day. It’s part of an experiment to make my work more visible to help me understand the effects of high work in progress, context switching and the flow of value. On my busiest day I did 14 different things across 8 projects.


New products: what separates winners from losers?

Robert Cooper and Elko Kleinschmidt present a series of ten hypotheses which they test and conclude that product superiority is the number one factor influencing commercial success and that project definition and early, predevelopment activities are the most critical steps in the new products development process. Success, they argue, is earned. It is not the ad hoc result of situational or environmental influences. Synergy, both marketing and technical, is crucial.

Local optimisation

This cartoon describes leadership in a VUCA world, but the interesting part for me is how it shows that teams working in isolation, however well they are performing, is local optimisation, which always always reduces global optimisation.

AI and work… it’s imminent

It’s starting to feel like AI is coming out of peak hype and settling into normal life. People are using ChatGPT at work, organisations are exploring how they can get value from AI data analysis and Microsoft is releasing co-pilot AI tools into Teams. This podcast talks about some of the research Microsoft has conducted.


Stages of optimisation

  1. Teams work in silos without feedback loops and with hierarchical control.
  2. Teams work in silos with feedback loops to help them improve but with hierarchical control.
  3. Teams work in silos with feedback loops to help them improve, and taking feedback from other teams to improve the flow through the whole system.
  4. One value stream team with feedback loops to improve the flow through the whole system.

Do OODA loops have to be created?

Does an organisation have an OODA Loop even if it doesn’t know it, or does it only exist if an organisation consciously creates it? When we say that one company has got inside another company’s OODA loop, do we mean it metaphorically to describe how they’ve gained an advantage, or do we expect that both companies are actually, actively thinking about their OODA loops? I think it’s probably more likely that most companies aren’t intentionally using OODA loop thinking, so than maybe the question is; do those that do have an advantages over those that don’t?

Empowered leadership

There’s lots of talk about leaders empowering teams but hardly any about what it takes to empower leaders. Leaders aren’t empowered by default, only by design. And Command and control leadership thinking is deeply embedded, more familiar, and just easier. Empowered leaders is a cold start problem that depends on leaders who are willing to do the hard work of being beginners again, unlearning old ways, being open-minded. That’s a lot to ask.