Week Notes 11 - 17 March 2024

Tiny model houses. Photo by me.
17 March 2024

Work stuff

I don’t get to say much about my clients but I’ve been working with a terrific company lately who are building the world’s leading environmental exchange.

We’ve gone through an interesting process over the past few weeks of setting too many company-level OKRs (with too many people involved) to a much smaller conversation resulting in a smaller, tighter, more high-leverage set of OKRs as a result.

I think things are starting to click for them which is always great to see.



πŸ“š I’ve been enjoying reading Getting to Yes, the classic handbook on negotiation. I started reading it to learn how to better close deals in my own business but I’ve discovered it’s so much more.

Everything is a negotiation, and negotiation can be wonderful. Done creatively and constructively, it can be a win-win for everyone involved: strengthening relationships, and improving outcomes for all the parties.

Moreover, a lot of the concepts resonate with my work around organisational change. The ideas of enlarging the pie, understanding everyone’s needs, and using a “single text” to negotiate is fundamental to helping teams to understand each other better, make better decisions, solve complex organisational problems and build outstanding products & services.

Transparent communications and shared, measurable outcomes in the form of artefacts like concise OKRs, clear user stories, and robust example maps help form that “single text”.

The Coaching Reckoning

I listened to an interesting podcast featuring the great Marty Cagan where he spoke about various types of “theater” including product Product Management Theater, Product Leadership Theater, and Transformation Theater

He spoke about the massive overhiring a lot of tech companies did during Covid (and for many years before) and the degree to which “fluffy” roles like Agile Coaching or pseudo-product management are damaging product organisations and transformation attempts and the wider tech industry, itself.

It’s certainly ramping up my impostor syndrome but also giving me some great food for thought. I look forward to reading his new book.

Roof stuff

🏠 We’re still getting our roof replaced. Yes, this is such a big event it deserves its own category. I wish I could call the landlord but he’s useless. 😜 Hint: he’s me.

Fun stuff

My son brought home a colour-changing LED lamp he made in DT. It reminds me of the joy of blinkenlights and a fibre-optic colour-changing lamp that my grandparents had. I was obsessed with it.

πŸš‚ My son and I visited The Model Railway Show at Alexandra Palace. Not since working around the corner from the Freemason’s Hall in London have I seen such an agglomeration of white-haired white men. Some of the layouts were truly impressive and the sense of community within the various “clubs” was palpable and nice to see.

🦜 I took my son to a wonderfully playful production of the Magic Flute from English National Opera – it was so silly, accessible, vibrant, beautiful and joy filled. It was only my son’s second opera but there was a lot of giggling and he loved it. Nice work ENO! πŸ™Œ I’m sad to see ENO leaving London but I suppose it’s good news for Manchester, levelling up and all that.

My wife and I went back to see the Barbara Kruger exhibit one last time with our son. He loves word play so there was a lot of laughter. And some big important questions about the world.

We all went to a Holi festival in Swiss cottage by Magic of India. I’m still slightly pink as I write this.

Music stuff

πŸͺ I’ve been unabashedly celebrating my love of ambient & space music.

🎹 I’ve been thinking about my old Roland Juno 106. I got it in college for $450 and dragged it home in a massive flight case to my dorm room. At one point, I “borrowed” a recycling bin and used it as a dolly to wheel the beast home. I played it for years and miss its crisp digitally controlled oscillators and warm swelling analog filters.

For the past several years it’s been sitting in my friend’s attic in Seattle waiting for me to buy a new case and fly it back to the UK whereupon I will have to modify the power supply for 220v and will probably decide that I don’t have space for it here, either, and end up selling it. 😞

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