Weeknotes 405

This week I did:


I’ve been roadmappin’ (you have to say that as if you’re singing this song, it’s the law). I’m using the four O’s of objectives (what we’re trying to achieve), obstacles (the things that get in our way, from technical constraints to policy changes), opportunities (things we could do that achieve the objectives by tackling or avoiding the obstacles, and which go into delivery planning), and outcomes (where we measure changes in user behaviour to help us understand if we picked the right opportunities). Once I’ve got it set up and making sense I’ll share it with others and check the logic behind how it works before we fill it in.

Other things that happened this week:

  • I learned that we have over 2 million unique user journeys.
  • We did a Team Onion exercise which is going to help us clarify our mental model of who’s involved and how without having everyone listed in a RACI.
  • Learned a bit about the AI work we’re doing.
  • I’ve been invited to run a retro for a team. I feel quite touched that they asked me. I hope I do a good job for them.


I completed 58 tasks, an average of 11.6 a day.

Wrote 27 pages of notes.

Spoke to 34 people.

Graph showing the number of people I spoke to and how many times I spoke to them.

Product leaders chat

You know that saying that if you’re the smartest in the room, you’re in the wrong room? Well, this week I found myself the least smartest, least experienced person in a room when I joined Herd’s product leaders chat. We talked about programmes and products (actually they talked, I listened). It left me with a lot of think about. What is programme thinking? How does it compare to product thinking? But mostly, why is it that so much product talk is really about organisational design and dynamics?

All my books

I’ve been meaning to catalogue all my books for a while now, but this week I finally started. I’m up to 58 so far with quite a few more to add.

I read:

Investigating the Central Claim of Agility — Does Frequent Delivery Create More Value?

This article concludes that the combination learning and working on right-sizing items is 13–14 times better at producing value than a system with Large Items.

How to Right-Size Your Stories for Better Predictability

Interesting post about predicting when work will be delivered by right-sizing the work.

Magpie metrics

The WB-40 podcast talks to Richard Clarke about the role that happiness has in high-performing teams.

I call it magpie metrics. One sorrow, two for joy. Where are you on the scale?

A scale with one magpie at one end for sorrow and two magpies for joy.

A leader’s job

This quote was shared with me.

A leader’s job is to manage energy… first in themselves and then in the rest of their organisation.

Professor Emeritus Jim Clawson

And I thought:

Good meetings

Most of the stuff you read about making meetings better says clear agendas are the answer. That’s not what I think. The best meetings I’ve been to have three things in common; good flow, good facilitation and good follow-up. A sense of flow helps people get absorbed in meeting. A good facilitator doesn’t stick to pre-fixed agenda, they help everyone get what they need from the meeting. And good follow-up scales the impact of the meeting by spreading knowledge and ensuring action.

S-shaped people

T-shaped people are great but really we need S-shaped people. T-shaped people have a broad range of shallow skills along with a deep specialist skill. That’s fine, but we need people who aren’t defined and constrained by their fixed skill sets. We need people who are curious, who explore new things, develop new skills. We need people who meander through knowledge, who snake their way into interesting ideas and connect them with other things.

Product managers are scientists not detectives

Someone said product managers are like detectives. They shouldn’t be. Detectives find out things someone else already knows. Scientists discover things no one knows yet. Product managers are scientists.