Weeknotes 413

This week I did:


If last week felt convergent, with things coming together as planned, this week has been a bit more contingent, with things going off plan. Which is fine, that’s how evolution happens. Anyway, some highlights from this week:

  • Felt so impressed by the emotionally intelligent, highly-motivated people on the team. It’s times like this that truly make me believe that theory x management is so fundamentally wrong.
  • Did a short showcase of what the team is working on. I wanted to use it to start making connections with other people and work across the org, and that’s what I got. I found out about three things that are relevant to our work. Hoping for more of this in the future.
  • Talked about the four metrics for measuring the product development process. Which made me briefly have the stupid idea of a product playbook with things like this to be used as shortcuts, before I remembered that everything is contextual.
  • Struggled to articulate how the four levers of change (people, processes, technology, product) fit together over the long-term. In my head, there is a big improvement kata (it could be a roadmap but I think it’s far too emergent to be expressed that way) but there isn’t an easy way to visualise how all the parts connect.
  • Happy to be finding my rebellious streak again.

Uncovering better ways…

Those three words are, for me, the essence of agile. You’ll never convince me there is a more generalisable or first-principle-esque way to think about agile.

Impact mapping

I’m going to be on a webinar about impact mapping from CX Partners. I’ll admit I’m feeling apprehensive about it. Public speaking, even via the internet, is not a skill I have. But I’m really looking forward to doing something I’ve never done before.

The numbers

Wrote 14 pages of notes.

Had 23 hours of meetings.

I read:

From being agile to delivering value

This cool study from Prateek Singh tries to investigate the central claim of agility – that frequent delivery creates more value. He concludes, “You can pretty much ignore almost all other guidance from Agile frameworks. If you can create a stable system where WIP is controlled, Right Size your items, deliver as soon as an item is finished and learn from feedback, all other ‘framework’ structures can be removed. You do not need Sprints, PIs, estimation, prioritization etc. at least from an economic point of view.”

We killed the disco

And we did it in the name of efficiency.

Angela says, discovery is about answering ‘is there a problem to solve, can we solve it, should we solve it?’ Which sounds great. Spot on. Exactly the right questions to answer. But then she goes on to say that really, discovery is “to stop or reduce the number of large expensive projects that get spun up with a full team only to find out months or years down the line that it can’t be achieved”. Ah, not so great then. That noble idea of finding worthwhile problems to solve (hopefully on behalf of our users) starts to look more like bureaucracy. That’s how it always goes. Pure ideas always get polluted to tackle organisational problems. Doesn’t matter whether it’s discovery, OKR’s, roadmaps or whatever, they are always co-opted to reinforce existing power structures.

Maybe the disco light at the end of tunnel is the emergence of the framework-less, mixed-methods approach to work (see above from Prateek Singh). Have a discovery, which is really a feasibility study and business case analysis, if that ticks the boxes, and then go do the important work.

But anyway, thankfully disco changed the world.

Going beyond the visualisation

Most talk about roadmaps seems to go straight to format and layout, rather than the more important things like it’s underlying logic and decision-making. So it’s nice to see someone saying we should make roadmaps that do a job those reading them need them to do, which is usually deterministic plan rather than emergent experiment.

And I thought:

Us and them

Team and stakeholders, IT and business, management and workers. Maybe us and them thinking is the biggest barrier to great culture. There isn’t really an us and them, there’s only we. We’re all in it together. You know that venn diagram that shows product management at the intersection of business, technology and UX? That shows the us and them mindset of business and technology as two separate entities that rely on a single role to bring them together. That shows a belief in the old mindset. Don’t believe it, product managers. Break free!