Weeknotes 402

This week I did:

On a mission

It’s been a little while since I’ve been excited about my work. There’s good work to be done here supporting the teams and building products that help the Open University achieve it’s mission. I’ve got lots to learn, lots to figure out, and hopefully lot of fun to had.

Product Wiki

One of the things I do when I’m working on a product is create a wiki for it. Usually it’s just a single document when I put info, links notes about changes, etc. I’ve started one for the product I’m going to be working on and it’s already up to 9 pages. Not only is it useful to have everything in one place, but when someone asks “what do we mean by ‘product’?”, I say “everything in the wiki”. A product is the sum of vision and strategy, market research, user experience, security and data protection, testing, change and release management, training, roadmap, risks, governance, team values, etc., etc. Bundle up all that knowledge and expertise, put it out in the world for people to benefit from, and you’ve got a product.


Completed 36 tasks, an average of 7.2 a day.

Met 47 people.

Wrote 32 pages of notes.

Removed work apps from my phone. Not sure how I feel about this, I still have the habit of checking messages in my head but now I can’t do it.

Three reflections on ten years in charity product management

I wrote about my ten years as a charity product manager and three of the challenges for good product management in charities. Because I do occasionally finish blog posts.

I read:

Guiding principles

Excellent example of making principles actionable rather than vague sayings that no one knows what to do with. A behaviour change expert I worked with once said, always start with principles to guide you.

Tips for Creating a Good Strategy

I listened to Scott Colfer’s tips for creating a good strategy. And, because it seems to be doing the rounds again, read Martin Eriksson’s Your strategy (probably) sucks. I’m still of the opinion that, just like planning, strategizing is more useful than strategy.

And I thought about:

Industry vs discipline

I read a post on LinkedIn about how product leaders bring a way of thinking about problems that . I take the point it’s making about hiring, and how perhaps some organisations make the mistake of excluding people without industry experience, but I don’t think it holds true that being a good product leader is more valuable than industry experience.

The question, of course, is how does experience correlate with achieving outcomes? We can assume that a product leader who knows how to do things in the right way and has considerable industry experience which means they know what are the right things to do, has a successful combination of factors (assuming you aren’t specifically looking to disrupt an industry). But having one (in this case knowing the right way to do things) shouldn’t be an inherently better factor of success. I wonder if it’s a fallacy in thinking to assume that knowing the right way, being practiced in using frameworks, techniques and methods, is better (see below about shuhari).

Two-by-two matrix showing the outcomes of discipline and industry experience.

Learn by doing, very occasionally

I have a bit of a problem with capability frameworks. Product managers learn by doing, and yet so many things that product managers are expected to know are the kinds of things they might do only very occasionally. How does a product manager taking a single product through its lifecycle over a number of years get the reps in for things like market analysis, business cases, defining an MVP, develop a product strategy, etc.?

Common knowledge as a solution to the coordination problem

When everyone knows the same thing, everyone can make aligned decisions. When different people know different things, they make different decisions.

This is why communication is so important in modern (non- command and control) organisations. Without this tacit means of coordination, misalignment is inevitable.

More shuhari

Thought about shuhari some more (it’s been in my head for a few weeks). Criticising those at the shu stage is sure sign of being at the ha stage, just as focusing on techniques is a sure sign of being at the shu stage.