Posts

Notes from 'Customer visits: Building better market focus'

The ever wise  Mr. Saeed Khan  recommended this to me when I mentioned I wanted to better understand the practice of discovering what customers value.  The question, " what is value? " is all well and good to think and talk about, but it's not practical unless you can apply the answers to your day job. Book:  https://www.amazon.ca/Customer-Visits-Building-Better-Market/dp/0765622254 The area of product management is one I haven't gotten a lot of exposure to, practically speaking.  Specifically how one actually figures out what jobs customers do and why they do them is something that I need more understanding in.  So here we are, spent some time reading ( finally ), and learned stuff. Tl;dr Customer visits must have a program, an intent, a design - else they, too, are just a good idea that ends up producing waste.  Being successful at these requires that facilitation and interviewing be core capabilities your organization fosters, paired with a designed intention to ha

Three...two...one...

Image
  Three facets of what I’m looking for… Help people change how they work for the better ( ways of working, technology ); help people change ( coaching ) Help the organization succeed through self-knowledge ( org. climate, org. metrics, mapping ) and a knowledge of their customers ( value ) Finding partners in building a BVSSH ( better value sooner safer happier ) organization ( the statement on models notwithstanding ) Two challenges every organization faces that I want to help and serve in… What do we do? ( value; mission/vision ) How do we do it? ( ways of working; flow ) An ideal job description might contain one or more of…  Descriptive titles: Flow Engineer , "tech-focused WoW Enablement Specialist", Systems Convenor ( Ways of Working Center of Enablement ) Enablement role, with the goal of enabling product teams to improve the ways they work; advisory role around software development practices; pairing with technical process and automation prototyping Works to establis

Your part in making a better LEGO brick

Image
This is my speaking script (w. slides interspersed) from a lightning talk at our company kickoff this year.  It worked out mostly ok - humour tends to save the day.  Replace the SportsEngine/SE references with your own company name/acronym and hey presto, relevant content.  In hindsight, it was far too large a topic to capture in a five-minute talk, but it was still fun to put together.  Previous years' talk scripts are here  and  here . Let’s quickly illustrate an idea, and a tool with which to pursue our new idea.  A concept that has bothered me quite a bit over the last several years is, ‘the value of individual contribution’.  So, let’s investigate the mental trainwreck that occurs when I write things down.   The scope of this talk is just a single facet of the ever-present problem: “human beings working together”.  Who are we? What is SportsEngine? What is SportsEngine made up of? What if we saw SportsEngine not just as an organizational or legal entity, or an org chart

System levers prioritization exercise/workshop

Image
So now, after much ink spilled in part 1 , let's talk about ways you can use this model .   On the left, our list of levers from the previous post.  On the right, scaled to show the relationship between effectiveness, effort, and human interaction. There are a number of different ways to use it, though a small group setting will naturally be more effective. As with most things, understanding the premise and intent matters. Premise:  An understanding of system leverage points provides insights into how we work, what we prioritize, how we react to failure. Intent: Exposure to a new way of framing things Building shared understanding Exposure to how others see differently when we look at the same thing Reconsider the systemic impact your ideas might have Reconsider the risk vs. effort of your current understanding To maximize opportunity to learn, remember to start the exercise by asking yourself two questions : Am I willing to learn?  Am I willing to be influenced? What you need:   T

What system levers can tell you about prioritization

Image
System levers and concept material drawn directly from:  Thinking in Systems: A primer .  What follows will make sense if you have a systems view of the world.  Reading the above book will certainly kick that off, but I'll do my best to illustrate the concepts for you.  You can self-audit yourself for a systems view with the following questions: Do I value the success of my own team over the success of the organization? ( really, truly, deep down... ) In the context of teamwork - are things great inside my team, but not so great when working outside of it? If you are honest with yourself and answered yes to either of those questions ( or don't have a problem with those statements ), you have or live or work within a silo paradigm.  It's almost inevitably the case, so don't feel bad - much management literature has been written trying to address this problem.  Thankfully, the good news is out there, for those who want to find it. If we look at the practical application

In 2020, what will your 100 minutes be?

If you could share one thing from the past year...what would it be?  What is the one thing that happened in 2019 that made the largest impact on you? I want to share with you my greatest failure.  And yet also my greatest learning. This year I failed to see that I had begun to view learning through the lens of control.  I had begun to see learning as a way to make people better.  Here at SportsEngine, when health checks were introduced, the intent was to grow teams, to shift a team’s focus from doing to learning.  Slowly, though, they became a means to generate analysis, a means to force my views; the intent was subverted from ‘help the team’ to ‘change the team’.   In reflecting on the health check journey, I realized that there were a number of themes that proportionally accompanied this subversion - friction in conversation, misunderstanding of purpose, personal stress, and frustration of progress. What was driving these themes? It was after reading the boo

Breaking hero behaviour with systems thinking

Image
 What follows is my script for the brief Ignite talk I gave at DevOpsDays Toronto 2019, with relevant slides injected.  Here's the video:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MtLT3KMkfHU My goal today is to firmly convince you that hero behaviour is actually an anti-pattern. It should not be praised or rewarded, but rather be viewed as a warning flag signifying greater systemic problems. I’ll show you the result of my own hero efforts, and how until I was introduced to systems thinking, I never realized that I’d been missing the forest for the trees. Most importantly, I’ll show you how you have complete control to change this. A number of years ago I was working at a software company that was struggling with siloing, production fires, long deploy times - all the stereotypical issues you’ve seen before, or perhaps experience today. A colleague and I took it upon ourselves to guide the dev teams to freedom and very hastily built a prototype pipeline system to replace their