Mood: 🙂. A gentle landing back to reality. Still awaiting some overdue spring blooms.
🌹 What am I grateful for this week?
Lots to reflect on these past three weeks, having not written any weeknotes since before my India trip. What’s top of mind:
- Receiving a nice nod from each proposal we fielded and shipped before my break — with these in flight and progressing as expected, we’re maintaining good ‘deal flow’ as it were
- Joining a dojo on my first day back (i.e. helping to confuse the teams during their discovery stakeholder Q&A 🙃). Props to Alex for making this easy to jump back into with a handy cheat sheet of sample talking points and ‘sentiment charts.’ I’m chuffed that the dojo mission continues to pick up momentum across the team
- Getting to a good ending. I think all you really want as a manager is to know that when someone’s ready to go, that you understand the reason and it isn’t a surprise. And I like the idea that a ‘good’ ending is one we navigate as ‘us’ and ‘we’ rather than having an adversarial relationship
🌵 What do I wish could have gone differently?
Tried to step into a business dinner my first day back, but I worry the jetlag got the best of me — I plainly struggled to stay active in the conversation.* Not that I’m super social to begin with, it’s more to having a sociable first impression instead of one that hangs over you in any follow-up chats.
Oh, and someone should take away my junior dev card (if I’m even allowed one) after I failed to raise a working PR to fix a typo 😅. No, I didn’t take the time to properly understand the system architecture before jumping in. I figured it was worth a wayward try instead of just asking someone more qualified to help… which is still what happened in the end. At least this way was a tad more fun though?
Have some long running threads to pick up now that I’m back — one in particular around delivery progression paths that I timed out on before my hols. Catching up on hiring and interviewing as well, feels like we could use a single dashboard for all these things to make it easier to see where everything’s at.
💡 What do I need to remember?
On a recent episode of Barry’s podcast, the group** discussed the idea of assessing one’s career trajectory with a 0–10 rating on (S)CAMP: (scale), community, autonomy, mastery, purpose. If you’re feeling a bit low on any of these dimensions, it’s worth probing why, what’s most important to you, and what you want to do about it.
But I think another great takeaway from the episode was to do this as a team sport — with your own “board” of directors, or mastermind group, or whatever nomenclature works best for you. Peers at or around your level who are happy to bidirectionally coach, mentor, etc. in order to provide you with a richer perspective than you can get on your own.
To orient where you’re headed in your career, try to (S)CAMP rate it. Even better to share it in a highly trusted circle where you can be vulnerable.
📚 What did I discover?
Love the idea behind Gabrielle’s post here — don’t let the tail wag the dog. Backlog management is valueless in and of itself, it’s the work around it that matters, e.g. customer discovery, validation, measuring.
Product managers — get away from the backlog!
Controversial? Some might say “yes,” but I hope to change your mind by the end of this article. Marty Cagan wrote…
The metaphor of a “cold start” to help study where viral growth comes from is a great one. Start from the same principles of user research, empathy, and discovering pain points — but look for the addressable pains with the most leverage in your product ecosystem. So really, this is a systems thinking argument for how to model for viral growth.
Solve a Hard Problem (Tinder). Chapter 8 of my upcoming book, The Cold Start Problem at andrewchen
Hi readers, I'm so, so excited that my upcoming book is dropping in one week, on December 7!! I've been working on it…
This one might be preaching to the choir nowadays, but I’ve always believed that being kind never has to be at odds with being effective.
It's Nice To Be Important, But It's More Important To Be Nice!
For far too long, being nice has been mistaken for being weak. In reality, niceness is…
For the miscellaneous bucket, something different from John Cutler’s world: an open book draft about the counterintuitive aspects of building products. Super interesting just from a skim — I wonder when this will come out?
Sad our holidays had to end (as always!), but we had an absolutely marvelous time in Kerala and were so honored to celebrate with Kaavya and Girish. Coming back to festivities for HRM right outside our flat, picnicking with friends at Primose Hill, entertaining other friends from back home — it feels like everyone’s in a celebratory mood lately. Wish we could always have such a spring in our steps!
*Need to remember next time to get back on top of the zeitgeist en route to the venue, especially when you’ve been abroad the last couple weeks. Don’t want to ramble on about your recent holiday. Seating arrangements also need consideration in a busy venue (or am I just becoming hard of hearing?).