Weeknotes 400

This week I did:

Getting set up

I spent a bit of time getting my second brain spreadsheet set up for my new role at the Open University.

Three reflections on ten years in charity product management

I wrote about what I hope for product management in charities in the not too distant future. I believe technology has the potential to create change at scale for all kinds of wicked problems affecting the world, and I hope charities embrace the opportunities it provides. And I hope product managers are instrumental in helping charities understand this opportunity and make the most of it.

Chatted to Matt

I was Matt’s 154th coffee chat. We chatted about products, technology and online learning. Matt shared a perspective on feature adoption that I’ve never heard before. He said the reason products, especially enterprise products, have so many features that most people don’t use is because it only takes one or two users of that feature for it to become a must-have when comparing other products. The more times that occurs across lots of different people in the organisation, the harder it is to switch, so lots of mostly unused features have a lock-in effect.

I also got a mention in Matt’s weeknotes.


Did pretty well with keeping up with writing notes about my day, but they are just stuff I did at the moment rather than being usefully reflective, which is the aim. I’m also wondering whether including things I did and thought about in one post for the day is more useful than than posting each thing individually (given that posts have dates anyway).

I read:

Behavioural design

Interview with behavioural designer Rahel Kiss on designing interventions to achieve a target behaviour, which could be reducing waste contamination, increasing vaccine uptake or reducing online fraud.

Deceptive choice architecture and behavioral audits: A principles‐based approach

This article argues for a principles-based approach to creating a regulatory environment which reduces the economic harm caused by deceptive designs, while safeguarding the benefits of well-meaning behavioral insights, and proposes behavioral audits as a tool to support this approach. I like principles-based approaches.

The Art of Experimentation for Product Managers

Experimentation is a crucial component of product management, allowing product managers to test different ideas and approaches to identify the most effective solutions and gain valuable insights into their target audience. In this article, we will explore the art of experimentation for product managers, why it is important, how to do it effectively, and provide real logical examples to illustrate each method.

I thought about:

Applications by quill and parchment only please

Nick Scott posted on LinkedIn about Unicef advertising a job for a Senior Innovation Manager where the ad said that anyone using AI to help them write their application would be excluded from shortlisting. What a strange position to take for an innovation role. It tells potential candidates that the organisation can’t even innovate on their recruitment process to adapt to new technologies. They could have encouraged candidates to use AI and talk through what they learned in the interview. It’s just one example of how behind the charity sector is when it comes to digital transformation and making the most of emerging technology.

Discovering worthwhile problems

I have a thing about getting to the simplest definition of complicated things. My three word definition of product management is ‘discovering worthwhile problems’. I think that speaks to what product managers should be uniquely focused on and the value they bring. ‘Discovering’, because these things aren’t known yet and need to be found. ‘Worthwhile’, because there needs to be a focus on value. ‘Problems’, because product managers should be more concerned with the problem space more than solutions.

What we get wrong about retros

Retrospectives are only a bit about reflecting and continuous improvement, but they are much more about connecting and sense-making. I’m a big believer in reflective practice. Thinking about what has happened to help us decide what to do in the future is essential in digital work. But retros have a more important role than creating these learning loops, they should help the team make sense of their work by connecting the cause and effect of what went well and what didn’t. Understanding the present is more important than making changes in the future.