Weeknotes 381

Did this week:


I achieved 17.5% of the 4 goals I set this week. On the plus side, my new method of measuring goals is really helping me understand how bad I am at achieving my goals.

I completed 47 tasks, averaging 9.4 a day. Last week I did 64 tasks. Two days at our staff summit ruined my streak.

I had 87 interactions with 32 people, compared with 58 interactions with 24 people last week.

Coordination problem

I’ve spent quite a lot of time over the past few months engaging with, and in many cases arguing with, different teams at the NHS. Clearly the NHS faces lots of problems, but on reflection the one that caused plenty of issues for me was a coordination problem. I’d sum it up as, “Everyone assumes someone is doing something, but no one knows who is doing what”. This causes lots of delays, confusion, misinformation, and stress. It’s a problem I’d love to work on.


Don’t Build a Mine Before You Struck Gold

An excellent metaphor for all product teams, not just start-ups. Flo Crivello, founder and CEO, reflects on what to do if you’ve built a mine in the wrong place. If it’s a hard lesson for founders to learn, it’s even harder for product teams without skin in the game. I wonder if there’s any difference in performance between product managers who have run businesses and those who haven’t.

What is strategy?

I read Porter’s well-known paper titled, “What is strategy?”. I used to discount a lot of what Porter said about strategy because it is based in the idea of competition, which, I thought, meant it didn’t apply to charities. Now I think I was wrong and actually charities are very much in a competitive environment because people can choose whether to support them or not. Government products don’t have that problem, which is why applying government product thinking to charity products always fails.

Ballantine’s law

“You can exponentially scale transactions. You can change interactions into transactions and then exponentially scale those transactions, but you lose social and cultural meaning along the way. You cannot exponentially scale interactions. They only scale in a linear fashion.”

I’m calling this Ballantine’s law. Transactions and interactions are the two different types of customer experience. Sometimes customers want transactions, sometimes they want interactions. They don’t want a transaction when they’re looking for an interaction. Matt goes on to talk about how AI might simulate interactions but they are still transactions.

Thought about:

Outcomes are temporary

Listen to any product management talk about outcomes over outputs and you might think that once an outcome is achieved it stays achieved for good. I don’t think this is the case. If outcomes are changes in people’s behaviour caused by your product, then it’s completely reasonable to consider that there are lots of other influences also changing a person’s behaviour. So outcomes aren’t fixed. They are never achieved once and for all. They are only ever temporary.


Heard someone in a podcast (can’t remember which one) mention playing snooker as metaphor for strategic thinking. Amateurs think about potting a coloured ball, experts think about where the white ball ends up after they’ve potted the coloured ball. They plan ahead and set things up for the next move.

Next course

I think I want to pick the next training course to do. Probably nothing as big as another masters (but if anyone wants to fund a PhD, let me know), but maybe a Diploma in Management and Leadership.