Mood: 🤨. Trying to Marie Kondo my to-do list, and see things as they are rather than how I wish they might be.
🌹 What am I grateful for this week?
Managed to eat that frog on Monday, and got an outline done for that principals doc that’s been stewing in Miro form since last month. There’s something about conquering the blank page that then makes it easier to chip away at the rest of the task during the week — section at a time, paragraph at a time — to the point where I’ve now got it mostly ready for review and should be able to start circulating next week. Whew!
We also had a great Friday morning catchup with a potential new client, and I loved the back and forth, candid exchange we had. No stuffy intros, no need to beat around the bush, and hopefully both sides got what they needed out of it. Small groups are where the magic happens.
In other news, Red Badger’s website refresh has been in the works for several months, and our head of content recently shared out a list of blogs that are making the migration journey — I was glad to see a number of mine listed, as well as a couple group posts I’ll be picking up attribution on. I then received a comment that I might well be one of our most prolific writers… and my eyes darted up to a mood board that I keep behind my monitor, where I actually had this exact goal written down from a year or two ago. Am chuffed to see something like this from the board materialize in a very concrete way.
🌵 What do I wish could have gone differently?
With hiring ongoing, I’m still fielding interviews at least once a week if not more across several open roles. I always try to push myself to a hire/no hire decision, and take a ‘no hire’ when on the fence, but there was a candidate whose scorecard I waffled on and probably shouldn’t have, looking back.
I think the challenge was, I wanted to think we’re still the size of company that can just “figure it out” when we find someone smart, even if they don’t fit the mold exactly in how we break down the capabilities of a role. But I’ve already learned what happens when someone comes in at the senior end, with great senior skills, but some gaps from earlier levels that they need to backfill. Sadly, our system isn’t designed to cope with non-linear progression in this way, and if the system is saying ‘no’ then I need to align with the system* for everyone’s sanity at the size we are now.
It’s that classic geometric growth problem with lines of communication in an expanding team** — too much misalignment that could go around if you don’t align to a standard process, or in this case standard decision making model. Just because I wish we were a smaller company doesn’t make it so. And so I need to check myself and stay off the fence next time.
💡 What do I need to remember?
What makes for a good product roadmap? I’m always stumbling on different answers to this question, and one of the more curious ones came out of this article — which at first glance felt a bit pedantic. Is the argument of RTL vs. LTR a distinction without a difference?
But I think the heart of it came out at the end: product roadmaps map intended outcomes over time, whereas delivery roadmaps map intended outputs over time. The outputs should, however, achieve the outcomes if your strategy is correct!
But neither is a stand-in for strategy, because they only answer the what*** by when question, as does a backlog to some degree. Said another way, we can choose to implement a strategy in many ways — the roadmap we pick should represent our best bet for how.
Roadmaps are fundamentally a tool to communicate intent, and not a strategy tool. It’s therefore important that they always travel with the context of the strategy they are executing.
📚 What did I discover?
Some great lessons here about the IC to LM leap from a PM’s perspective. I’ve certainly missed the impact of #6 and wished I’d owned my role in #2 sooner.
12 things I learnt moving into Product Leadership
A leader is best when people barely know they exist, when their work is done, their aim is fulfilled, they will say: we…
On the flip side — it shows the clear value add for a PM to see what happens when you’re missing, and someone else is stretching to cover the gap with these sorts of results. A sad but brave story to share.
Why I Quit Google’s WebAssembly Team, And How It Made Me Sick
I joined Google in early 2015 to work on the V8 team as one of the first authors of the WebAssembly specification. This…
Hat tip to Andreas for sharing this talk about where the industry practice of design wants to be vs. where it is. Some favorite nuggets from this one:
- Always fun to see who tries to claim the center of the tech/business/design Venn — Andy suggests marketing, but I think PM often makes a go at it too? But ultimately gives the right suggestion, to play a supporting role
- “The double diamond is a lie” — spicy! 🔥 The claim of spending 66% of the time in ‘develop’ and 28% in ‘deliver’ is probably not far off either
- A slide about the signs of a midlife crisis including “switching careers (into product, for instance)” — need to look in the mirror on this 😆
To round us off, here’s a random find about authenticity. Imagine if we all wrote to one another this way!
Allergies are killing me again — so you know summer’s here. I wonder if the August heatwave is still going to hit at the same time this year with climate change the way it is? But it’s definitely an improvement from the humid heat of India, and with any luck I might be in Geneva for the peak.
Already getting excited for our next trip later this month, but with all the travelling I’m dragging my feet on unpacking our remaining boxes and suitcases in the living room. The flat is at least presentable, or hostworthy for a dinner party. Does Marie Kondo have a rule for letting things go if you don’t bother to unpack them after enough time has passed?
*Or, lobby to change the system in order to enable us to handle these exceptions in a better way.
**Unrelated, but I also get a little nervous when we size up core DPD teams to 12. Always remembered 7±2 as the old rule of thumb, or the ‘two pizza’ team mantra. And it comes back to that geometric growth issue, count the number of comms lines between 12 teammates in a core team. A lot to keep track of!
***Say you don’t know what to do next? Use an (experiment) backlog to find a way forward — it will keep you focused on outputs (effort) until you know enough to switch to outcomes (result). In fact, one of the most humble things a lead can do is be clear about what they don’t know, to actually trigger this process. Which often leads to an awesome outcome for the product & team.