Stardate S03E01

Mood: 😲. Trying to keep up with the blur of the past few weeks. How is it almost March already?

Evening view of the Olympic Stadium from Stratford

There’s loads to catch you up on since I made it back to London/Geneva… a team pitch, hellos and goodbyes*, hosting a fair share of meetings, a retro, a workshop, drafting contracts under the gun. Plus of course the move back to London itself, flat hunting and getting used to a new neighborhood.

Yet when I first got back, having been away for two months — I was appreciative of how compassionate my colleagues were to check in with me frequently, acknowledging that I didn’t have to be up and at it right away, and that it was okay to find my way for a bit first. It’s safe to say I’m back up to speed now, but not having kept up my weeknotes for January and February, I’m already struggling to remember where the days went!

🌹 What am I grateful for this week?

Three things stand out. First, it’s great to have that workshop behind us (even though there’s another just around the corner — thankfully I’m just facilitating a portion of that one!). I’m really glad the team opted to do a dry run with fresh brains from the bench last week; it was a bit painful, to be sure, but pointed us in a much better direction for the real session. Testing a workshop format that relies on quality input for quality output is still a mystery to crack, one we’ll hopefully get better at with time.

How did people ever get by with just flip charts for these things?

A second comes to mind with (sometimes) being perceived as more product-aligned than delivery-aligned among my peers. It’s not so much about leaving delivery behind as it is catching the wave of what’s next — I continue to feel that, in our renewed mission to help others become stronger digital product companies, that’s where we all should be focusing.

The third is a bit easier, just hanging out with folks in 3D again for a hybrid company meeting.** It’s a soothing bit of deja vu to linger after the final speaker, open up the beer fridge and chat it up with the crowd that lingers on too. (Had a turnout of about 25 — cozy compared to the days of yore.)

🌵 What do I wish could have gone differently?

If you’d asked a couple weeks ago, I would’ve said we’re building up good momentum for our business development plans in Cell D. I had fun talking the cell through it as well. But the world keeps changing around us and there’s a fair bit of how we work that now needs to be reevaluated.

“All fun and games” as some would say. We’re agile, right? We’ll adapt.

On a personal note, I need to refer back to my reading of Radical Candor and remember to challenge directly even if it’ll cause a bit of discomfort. I may have bit my tongue a couple times this week, but I need to keep it in check lest I perpetuate a false harmony.

💡 What do I need to remember?

Emma and I were talking a couple weeks ago about the difference between trying to win and trying to get to an outcome. I’ve been ruminating on this and considering the overlap with the Tribal Leadership model of stage 3 vs. stage 4 teams. The ones driven by individual vs. collective success. It’s not that “winning” is a bad thing to strive for, but the context and reason for winning matters a lot — especially if your worldview is zero-sum. Which can also be expressed as the fixed mindset vs. the growth mindset.

I’m starting to see that these are all variations on this idea of ingrained combativeness: do others have to lose in order for you to win?

Don’t forget why you want to win. It shouldn’t just be at the expense of others.

📚 What did I discover?

Loving the prompts in this layman’s explainer of causal/system thinking… it’s quite a feat: fill in the blanks and understand how the world works just a little bit better.

Courtesy Megan, this is a great essay on how important cross-discipline work is to the future of design (and really, the work of “digital” teams of all shapes and sizes).

You read about riding the rocket ship to founder/CEO all the time — moving the other direction is something that rarely gets publicized. It’s nice to see someone owning a different narrative.

Sachin’s taste is always on point, and I imagine I’ll be pointing folks to his well-curated list of resources next time we dive deep into a product-market fit conversation.

🏠 AOB

It’s still early days for 2022, but I suspect When Breath Becomes Air will be my top read of the year. Beautiful and moving, if you’ve not come across Paul Kalanithi’s writing before you can get a flavor from this NYT piece he did prior to his memoir.

*It seemed like our marketing and people teams changed over in a blink while I was away. In truth it had been in the works for a while, and if I remember it through the lens of gardening and pruning, there’s not a ton to read into — it’s just a natural step to align with changes in the business strategy as part of our growth plans.

**I will admit though, I have a bit of Zone 2 blues. Commuting to the office used to be a breezy 35–40 minutes and I’m sometimes creeping past that dreaded hour mark nowadays. How did we manage to do this every day in the old days?

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Reflecting through #weeknotes. Learning what works. You’re welcome to read over my shoulder while I do.

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Sean K. Gabriel

Sean K. Gabriel

Kindness first. Lean product aficionado tweeting @skaulana, web @ kaulana.com. Finds you interesting. (づ。◕‿‿◕。)づ

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