John — like some of the other comments here I must echo the “this sums up my entire career” sentiment.
For a few months now I’ve committed to waking up a couple hours earlier and balancing a couple things: learn something new that I can use today (currently this is apply Donna Lichaw’s story mapping techniques outlined in “The User’s Journey” to a product); learn something new that I can use “next year” (currently taking courses on data analysis at dataquest.io).
One area I always end up gravitating to is the organizational tensions. Where conflicts and politics live. I’m fascinated by these very human interactions and their impact on organizations, communities, families…
When someone charges you with “improve the user experience” and the more you start learning about the current experience, the more you start uncovering organizational tensions. I think Jeff Gothelf did a fantastic job in Sense and Respond, laying out why these tensions may exist and offering up a path forward for orgs to do better.