Weeknotes 408

This week I did:

Only three days?

I had two days off this week, and one of the days I was at work was spent at an event, so there was a lot to make progress on in a short period of time.

  • Went to a Salesforce Education event. Two thoughts; lots of universities are using the same tech but each in completely unique ways, and how the big tech strategy of creating lock-in is being used in that space.
  • Apologised for shutting down and talking over a colleague. I don’t know what I was thinking, but I don’t expect that kind of behaviour from anyone else so I don’t accept it from myself. I’ll do better.
  • Wrote up the retro I ran last week. I like writing up retros more than I like running them. The process of synthesising the points people discussed into themes, building a mental model around using what the team is good at to overcome the challenges, and creating actions for people to own just fits how my brain works.
  • Ran a session to come up with some prioritisation criteria and apply them to decide what we should work on next. Amazing what you can achieve in a 25 minute meeting when everyone is focused.
  • Had a fascinating chat about measurement and reporting. It was only afterwards that I started to realise that we were coming at the conversation from different points-of-view, and it was thanks to a point Teresa Torres made on a podcast. She said something along the lines of continuous discovery and business research not needing the same degree of reliability and validity as academic research.
  • Did some prep work for a service designer to join the team. I’m really looking forward to this and have high hopes for us bringing more user perspective and creating
  • Pivoted my approach to creating our roadmap. I’ve given up on my analytical approach of connecting opportunities to objectives and obstacles to provide rationale and am creating a quicker version. I’ll still be able to talk through the rationale, but we need something sooner so progress is more important than perfection.

Am I an unProduct person?

Jukesie’s post about being an unProduct person got me thinking. There’s lots of interesting stuff so I wrote a post questioning whether I’m an unProduct person.

Shuhari for product managers

I wrote a few, mostly incomprehensible notes (it was late at night), on shuhari for product managers. Having thought about it a bit more, I’m wondering if shuhari complements capability frameworks. Capability frameworks are about the skills product managers need, they are defined, have clear(ish) boxes around them. Shuhari is about the practice; it’s fluid, undefined and intangible. Together, they are a bit more holistic. (And, not to get too inception-y, but weeknotes are part of a reflective practice.)


Went to Silverstone to watch a friend racing. Can’t quite figure out why people do it. When I used to run mountainboarding events, the competition was just an excuse to bring the community together. But in motorsports there doesn’t seem to be any community. People turn up, do their thing, and go home. So why turn up at all?

I read:

The flow system

I started reading The Flow System. I’m of the opinion that the next step in the knowledge base of product management isn’t more frameworks and models, it’s in ways to make the existing frameworks and models fit together. I hope this book helps with that.

How to Be Kinder Sooner

This is a nice post by Kody Fintak and Tara Scott. It doesn’t really go anywhere other than the obvious, but I’m glad to see kindness showing up in software development circles.

The Behaviour Change Technique Ontology

This is amazing work on developing a Behaviour Change Technique Ontology. Behaviour change is so overlooked in product management but it’s so important for outcome-focused work where we define an outcome as a change in user behaviour. It always baffles me that the question of whether product managers should be technical or not comes up again and again, but no one seems to ask if product managers should understand psychology.

And I thought:

Why simplify

Simple things have greater explanatory power than complicated things. So, if we want people to understand more, we have to make things simple. But that definitely doesn’t mean taking things away, hiding or ignoring complexity, or reducing things. That doesn’t make them simpler, it just makes them less.

Philosophically, a simple thing has elegance – only has the parts it needs, and parsimony – all the parts are of the same type. So, when I try to make things simple, e.g. a roadmap (head, meet wall), I have to make sure it ticks those boxes and I don’t try to add stuff that breaks the elegance and parsimony.

Make things, develop people, make things happen

Thought more about Monozukuri, Hitozukuri and Kotozukuri as part of a theme around simplicity. Along with my three-word definitions, and breaking more rules as my practice goes through shuhari, I wondered if rather than specific frameworks and thinking tools, we should start work and teams with the three simplest things of a way to make things, a way to develop people, and a way to make things happen. And do it using plain English, which is another bee I’ve got in my bonnet at the moment.

Will it make the boat go faster?

In my ongoing attempts to help our team focus on the things that matter, I’ve been trying to come up with our own, “will it make the boat go faster” question. The closest I’ve come so far is, “Will it help students succeed?”. I need to test it our with people as at the moment, I know it won’t resonate as we aren’t user focused enough yet. But we’ll change that.

Thought leaders and inaccessibility

LinkedIn’s algorithm seems to amplify posts with images. So, if you’re someone trying to build an audience around your thought-leadership, you might be tempted to create images with text to widen the reach of what you’re putting out. But this isn’t very accessible. I don’t even consider myself disabled, but I use LinkedIn on my phone and have to do a lot of pinch zooming to read the text. It must be a lot harder for others. If you’re a leader that doesn’t care about accessibility, I don’t much care about your thoughts.