Stardate S03E05

Mood: 😤. Trying not to make things harder than they need to be.

Spring blooms passing through the Fulham Cemetery

🌹 What am I grateful for this week?

Sports analogies really aren’t my thing, but it feels appropriate this time around to celebrate a potential hit after many times at bat* to start the year. Even though the fly ball is still high in the air, I’m enjoying the scramble to first base anyway.

And what’s first base in this example? We’ve gotten critical mass for a bench project, despite a surprising number of people planning hurdles in our way (dust on the field?), and kicked off Monday. I’m a little late again with writing last week’s notes — always prefer to compartmentalize at the week ends — but it’s with an ace team and I admit, I do enjoy ‘playing stakeholder’ from time to time. 😄

We also had an opportunity last week to secure an external presentation this week, in-person, and my instinct was to put myself forward to cover the topic myself, but I’m really glad we spread the load and got a proper SME involved instead. I wouldn’t really have been able to do the topic justice — the same trap I tell people about with the cell model, scaling and moving out of an individual contributor role. Rather than doing it all yourself, letting go of your Legos, leaning on others and creating opportunities for them; that is and should always be the north star of my work at this level.

🌵 What do I wish could have gone differently?

Coffee runs and face time make for a good environment to unpick a thorny issue one-to-one — a Slack chat does not. I knew this, and suggested diverting the conversation as it came, but when pressed I offered a small response, which then quickly snowballed. It’s not fair to chalk it all up to remote working though; I handled the situation poorly.

I find models useful to draw on when you’re thinking on your feet, and normally would reach for Radical Candor, but the medium matters immensely when you’re challenging directly. It’s so easy for the other side to lose sight of your caring personally without the non-verbal cues we’d normally share. So, next time I’ll stand my ground for a higher bandwidth medium.

💡 What do I need to remember?

Separately, building on the challenge theme, I also fell prey to withholding a direct challenge until the end of a timeboxed conversation — sensing it would derail the rapport we’d established earlier in the call. But it had to be done, and I didn’t gain anything by waiting once that initial rapport had been set. Better to address the elephants when they’re still new to the room, otherwise they become a convenient excuse.

Raise objections early. The longer you wait to challenge directly, the harder it gets.

📚 What did I discover?

Someday I’ll make it through the full back catalog of Seeking Wisdom, but for now, another goodie from the archives — who do people naturally go to, that aren’t in the management team already? Those are your future leaders. Watch what they do and figure out why it’s working!

Great find from Marcus about product manager archetypes. It’s a really useful shorthand for comparing and contrasting the importance of different experiences in hiring for a particular problem area.

Learned lots from Melissa here on scaling PM best practices in large organizations through the emerging area of product operations. It sounds easy to focus on these three pillars of data, research and processes/tools, but I wouldn’t take for granted anyone’s ability to make it stick at scale in a massive enterprise. It’s the sort of fascinating challenge that’s only now becoming visible due to the rapid growth of the product discipline within the wider industry. So… a great new problem to have? 😅


All the moving as of late has me thinking, maybe I’m not cut out for the nomad lifestyle. Or at least not the rapid-fire kind; I like having a base for more than a handful of weeks. It’s good to be settling in to a new place, but I’m starkly aware, tethered to my phone’s hotspot tonight, how awful the Openreach mafia** is in the UK — why do I need to wait this arbitrary 10 days when the line is working perfectly? “Because.”

The antithesis of serving the customer — just admit you’re serving the business. 💩

*Not those kind of pitches, though — the business development kind.

**I’ve only really moved flats twice since I originally moved here over half a decade ago, you forget these things! It just fascinates me that this magnificent edifice of the modern era, my ISP, is the slowest of all my other utilities to be switched over.




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 @ Finds you interesting. (づ。◕‿‿◕。)づ

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