Stardate S03E04

Mood: 😼. Firing on all cylinders. Am I running out of time?

Passing by The Fulham Mitre in the evening

🌹 What am I grateful for this week?

Building off of a similar feeling in February, it’s been nice to get tapped on the shoulder for a couple product-related threads this week. Leading a discussion around our product strategy offering, for one — that’s our structured innovation process where we validate unknowns by gauging real customer reactions in digital experiments. I’m reminded that I quite enjoy talking others through how it works, the clockwork and the intensity… it’s fun!

There’s also the continued growth of our product team, and me hopping on an upcoming hiring panel. Genuinely feels like we’re returning to growth on all fronts — new projects, new clients, and finding more strong practitioners to help with the work ahead. Ultimately I’d love to see more showcases of impact come out of all this (reminds me of the Mission Beyond case study from the end of last year), how long will it all take to materialize?

🌵 What do I wish could have gone differently?

Steeling my nerves across a negotiating table. I know the importance of pushing commercial considerations early, but still need to improve at getting price in the open sooner. I also find that wait agonizing after you’ve put your best foot forward and the rest hinges on a simple yes-no reply.

In time, this all needs to become clockwork as well if our growth plans are going to succeed. Cain always used to talk about the sales mission in the early days as being selective — I find this an interesting way to reframe the challenge. Rather than feel the weight of closing any particular deal, think of the opportunity cost if the deal isn’t right. We’re mature enough as a business to be able to walk away when we need to, and in a larger scaled version of the company we probably need to be saying our ‘no’s more often as well.

💡 What do I need to remember?

A bit of food for thought this week around where agile is going in 5+ years. Depending on whether you find the manifesto outdated, or follow a bit of John Cutler, it could be something around agile principles permeating the entire business. No more ‘being agile’ while delivering work that doesn’t matter. Agreement on what matters (e.g. serving the customer).

I feel like historically, our firm used to index heavily on the lean side of lean agile to differentiate our delivery — minimizing waste through a laser focus on blockers, impediments and inefficiencies, plus a bit of queuing theory, information radiators and the like. Great when you know you’re delivering value (as per agile), but that’s not always a given, and rarely aligned across the entire business.

So leading with lean might make even less sense in the future, especially if the industry trend is around wider conversations around value. After all, what’s more valuable in the end, doing the right thing slowly or doing the wrong thing like a well-oiled machine?

You’ll always get greater returns maximizing value than minimizing waste. So, lead with value over efficiency.

📚 What did I discover?

Courtesy Marcus, this is a helpful way to prioritise what matters most in the lean canvas. If the context isn’t right to run through the entire thing, there’s still plenty of value that can be had from just focusing on this core of customer segments, problems and existing alternatives.

Loved this best practices compilation from Andy on building strong teams in a world of remote-first working. The pessimists tend to shrug and say there’s no substitute for face-to-face, but there’s plenty of ideas here that might well turn you into an optimist 😇.

🏠 AOB

GRiD laptop sighting at the Science Museum

Enjoyed a very social end to the week — between a bit of office balcony time on Thursday, a wine bar catchup on Friday, and a walk-and-talk in the park on Saturday, I’m so glad London has come back to life. Lisa and I thought we should take advantage of a bit of gallery time as well, so between the National Gallery and the Science Museum, I’m all museum’d out for the weekend.

An unexpected gem to find that GRiD laptop in the latter — Mom used to work there! I remember its bright-orange-and-black display and trying to work with DOS on one as a kid. And hey, I used to work at Microsoft too, so we’ve both got a little slice in that display case 😄.

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Reflecting through #weeknotes. Learning what works.

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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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