Weeknotes 395

This week I did:

Whole problems

Spent some time pondering user adoption, arguably the hardest part of product management. It’s so easy to focus on the ‘thing’ and not the value the user gets from the ‘thing’. It’s obvious to say, but if you can’t solve one problem for one user in way they value, then you can’t really expect to solve more problems for more people in ways they’ll keep coming back to. And yet we (product managers) often fail to understand the user, their problems, or how to get them using our solution. We jump to the solution in isolation. I created just such a ‘thing’ this week. Ok, there’s a customer waiting for it, so there’s some validation there, but I have only the vaguest idea of what problem they are trying to solve or how they’ll use it and what impact it’ll have. Oh to have the time to tackle whole problems.

In the zone

Added a few more things to product management zone. It’ll either become the world’s biggest resource library for product management (next to Google and LLM’s) or just give me some cataloguing to focus on. I’ll let you guess which.

New art

One of the things on my goals for this year was to start another piece of conceptual art. You probably already know about Floors I’ve Walked On and Stiles.style, but I wanted something more virtual. So, spreadsheet art is it. I create images by colouring the cells of spreadsheets so they act like pixels. Over time, I’ll get better at it and make more complicated images but at the moment I’m more interested in playing with ideas around real/digital. My first piece is called “If static could sort itself out” and imagines what the static we used to see on old TV’s might look like if it arranged itself into a nice pattern.

I read:

The Universal Design File: Designing for People of All Ages and Abilities

Download and read this book about designing products to be usable to the greatest extent possible by people of all ages and abilities/disabilities. As usability is one of the four big product risks, understanding universal design is important for tackling that risk.

The effectiveness of nudging key learning resources to support online engagement in higher education courses

I’ve said before that product managers need to know more about human psychology than technology, and behaviour change techniques are an important part of that body of knowledge.

How to do monitoring and evaluation differently when working with complex systems challenges

This is a fascinating look at how monitoring and evaluation should help organisation working in complex system change to regularly learn and adapt, capture system-level change and track and report on intermediate progress.

Ready for a reset

NPC’s State of the Sector 2024 report explores the views of charity leaders, charity users, and the public on where charities are. One of the interesting insights is, “The proportion of charities who consulted their users rose from 60% in 2020 to 85% in 2023. However, the proportion of charities who say that users have a direct input into their strategy dropped from 71% to 62% over the same period, although this is not a statistically significant change. Charities need to ensure that user involvement does not become tokenistic.”

Knowledge management is more important than your repository

Creating tacit knowledge, things people ‘just know’, is the key to good knowledge management. Knowledge in people’s heads is infinitely more valuable than information in any tool.

I thought about:

Practice solving problems

Small problems that come up every day are an opportunity for teams to practice problem solving. Getting people together, talking to each other to understand the problem and agree the solution. Practicing on small problems helps teams get better at solving bigger problems.

Team metrics that matter

Speed matters for some teams. If you’re on an F1 pit stop crew, the time it takes to change tyres matters to you. That doesn’t mean speed matters to all teams, but it’s probably good for teams to know what matters to them. What’s their north star metric? What should they be optimising for? And if they don’t know, I’d suggest optimising for joy and measuring how much the team enjoy working together is a pretty good metric to start with.