Weeknotes 378

This week I did:

Team priorities

As it’s the last week of the month I’ve been helping the team prioritise their work for November.

Most people had five priorities. The team commits 60% of its time to these planned priorities (this gives us 40% of our time for team meetings, handling unplanned work, etc.). That works out as about 100 hours per month per person. If we’re spreading our time over 5 projects, for example by giving the highest priority project 30 hours, second priority 25 hours, etc., means the fifth priority only gets 10 hours, or less than two days of work in that month. In practice, the team is flexible with their time but this spread shows how much time is available for each project when the team has lots of work in progress.

My hope is that it helps the team know what’s expected of them and push back on unplanned work to allow them to focus and deliver more value sooner. And I hope it’s clearer for all the other teams we work with too. It’s the first time the team has prioritised in this way so I’m interested to know if it makes a difference.


I completed 76 tasks this week, an average of 15.2 a day. When I started tracking in August I was averaging 8.5 a day. I had 71 interactions (video meetings, emails or chat messages) with 27 people. I updated how my tracker works so it rolls up into my objectives. It’s interesting to see how my focus has shifted month by month.

Table showing number and percentage of tasks contributing towards objectives per month.

I started creating a Google Docs version for other’s to use but have been too busy this week to finish it.

Balancing failure

I wrote a bit about how a manager’s job is to balance opposites. One of those balances I’ve been pondering recently is between ensuring the success of a project and giving people the opportunity to learn from failure.

Reading list

I’m reading Better Value Sooner Safer Happier and Right Kind of Wring. And I bought Lean Enterprise, Coaching Habit, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, Good Strategy/Bad Strategy, Business Model Generation and The Fearless Organization. No idea when I’m going to find time to read them but it’s good to have ambition.

And I read:

Autistic leadership

As Helen Jefferies says Pete Wharmby says, autistics don’t so much grow a personality as construct one. We take bits of how other people operate and incorporate them into our own personalities or at least our own public personas. This makes so much sense to me. I have facial expressions and mannerisms that I’ve copied from people I’ve known. More importantly, I’m really interested to see where Helen goes with writing about autistic leadership because there’s so little written about it. Google it, and all the results are about leading autistic people, not autistic people being leaders.

What makes a good pilot project for digital?

Ben Holliday wrote about back in 2017 about some guiding principles for digital pilot projects. It’s an interesting mix of feasibility things and political things, and some feel like they could guide a new project and others assess a pilot. More recently, Alistair Ruff wrote about seven things to think about when prototyping a service.

Both of these made me think about the difference between a pilot and an MVP. Maybe a pilot is complete version of a digital service used by a limited number of users to check the whole thing works, whereas an MVP tests certain assumptions or aspects of a product or service.

From mechanistic-to-systemic-thinking

This is thirty years old. In it Russell Ackoff states that humanity is in the early stage of a transition from the Machine Age to the Systems Age. It’s an important time to be alive and to learn about this new way to understand everything.

I thought about:

Running products like mini-businesses

This idea from Scott Colfer keeps coming up. I’m writing a blog post about a few things that make running a product like running a business.

What makes charity product management different?

Steve Messer’s post, Best, not first about how the public sector needs to approach tech products differently to the private sector made me think about what makes product and tech in the third sector different from the other sectors. I’ve haven’t reached any conclusions yet, but two things come to mind. One is about how the third sector is competitive (like the private sector and unlike the public sector) but success is measured by system change (like the public sector and unlike the private sector). But the say that the third sector is a mix of the other two would be incorrect. The other thought is about the economic theory suggesting that the public sector exists to take care of market failures in the private sector, and so the third sector exists to tackle the market (policy) failures of the public sector. That suggests that one gap for charity products is in tackling those failures.