There is nothing humans hate more than not knowing their place in the universe. We are continually looking at the world around us and demanding to understand our value within it. But that value is not easy to discern. Like a hurricane, there is no single root cause in a complex system. The harder one searches with the wrong perspective, the harder it becomes to find.
One of the reasons for this is our pursuit of finding a simple explanation in all things. As a society, we fetishise simplicity. We demand it from our governments, colleagues, friends and even family.
This year I tried something different. I wanted to craft an article each month on an interesting thought or lesson from my life as a product manager.
It’s been a long time since a year lived has taught me so much on living and working well.
In this article, I’ve summarised some of my most exciting ideas from the year. I hope you enjoy it and that it helps with your own reflections as we move forward together into 2021.
Good ideas give us more opportunities for success.
We should encourage our teams to develop their thoughts with systems that…
Years ago, I was devastated when a project I had poured so much passion into was one day unceremoniously cancelled. It hurt. And what was worse was I had encouraged my team to also emotionally invest themselves. I learned many lessons from that experience. I vowed never to put myself or anyone else in such a vulnerable emotional state again. Work was not worth it. Now I’m starting to rethinking that approach.
In the office, we are encouraged to take a rational, not passionate approach to our daily tasks. …
“What is the difference between something complicated and complex anyway?” is a typical question often posed to me during a challenging planning session.
Unbeknownst to my inquirer, they have just invited me to change their world view. I’m no expert in complexity theory, but I know enough to be dangerous.
I reply, “Comparing complicated with the complex is like comparing a Swiss watch with a Frog. You probably could only put one of those back together again”. The difference is the levels of the unknown in between.
What I want my inquirer to take away from this forum is that…
No affiliate links. No financial incentives. Just a simple product manager’s own beautiful biases for the best picks of 2020.
A product manager observes his screen glow
As the winter nights continue to grow and grow
His mind fleeting and a flutter
What has been achieved this year? I ask
How is it unlike any other?
As the annual report begins to loom
A stark absence of accomplishment sucks inspiration from the room
But, not all is lost
A glimmer of hope begins to bloom
Though I may have achieved materially little
Perhaps there is more to glean from the gloom
“A wealth of experiences have I” I utter
“Learning from failure is the real teacher” I sputter
The interdisciplinary nature of the product manager’s job is fertile ground for learning. I find that we can spend as much time building products as building up teams for success.
I am obsessed with the problem of team building. How can one take a valuable user issue, validate and quantify it, then apply those insights to develop a motivated and high functioning team and deliver value quickly? I’ve been mulling over this question for years. Then finally, last year I got my chance! I was asked to rebuild a search engine and put together a team to achieve it.
How did it all go wrong? How could the product I built have been so bad? All that time, just, wasted. Will anyone ever trust me again?
Most product managers have been in this position at some point. Maybe we thought we understood the problem we were solving, but as time passes the issues just keep multiplying. It’s a mess, but I think it stems from something deeper. We have never really been taught how to understand the problems of the users we are trying to help
You can have the world’s best engineering team, but without understanding a user’s…
From coronavirus to lockdown, Black Lives Matters, US presidential elections, the politicisation of public health, trans rights, colonial guilt and climate change denial, the list is undeniably important and keeps growing.
What follows are four topics based on the most popular papers that academics in the social sciences have been reading on the academic social network, Mendeley. If you want more details on how I collected and used the data, I’ve added a section at the end. Enjoy!
Researchers wanted to find out…
Today we consume more information per person than at any other time in human history. We are continually reading, observing, monitoring, conversing and mentally trying to build a knowledge of the world we can use in our daily work and lives. The problem? The disparity between the total quantity of human knowledge and our ability to assimilate and filter it grows unremittingly by the day.
Imagine being able to recall any interesting thing you have read, seen or done. How amazing would that be? Any problem, any piece of creative work or project, boosted by a library of your historical…