Weeknote #020

— 19 minute read

For the first time in weeks, I started to write this essay on Friday. Publishing online is changing the dynamics of my writing routine. I am editing more, and tweaking things constantly. I haven't found yet an efficient routine but I am enjoying the learning. But editing is addictive, I have to say. I am also fixing css and accessibility bugs and improving things slowly.

I try to recommend a weeknote here every week. This week I will share a blog instead. Allison Coward is strategist, trainer and workshop facilitator. She writes fantastic articles in her blog. Her book, A Pocket Guide To Effective Workshops is a delicious treasure trove of tips to improve your facilitation skills.

Good Things permalink

Content first, please permalink

My week was full of great surprises working with the content team. It started with some good work sessions with Linsey, Chris Brunner and Kevin.

And with joy I accepted the invitation to attend the Content guild chapter offsite, Content Day. A great session with two external speakers and smooth facilitation by our Rahel 'Content Empress' Bailie.

She rocked, even with the usual Zoom crashes. I've learned a lot about localisation, and we had exciting conversations about plain language, readability score methodologies, personality types and team shapes.

Adoption, bets and life in product permalink

We are now half-way through sprint 3. Release notes are ready for the next release and we have a good idea about what comes next. From a product perspective, we have been doing well. The team is so rad and they keep surprising me. We also have been receiving so much support from Content, Design Managers and developers that I am impressed. Spontaneous adoption is happening. Teams are now reaching out to start using our design system and are excited about creating and improving documentation.

In one of these conversations, I was asked to find the original investment proposal for DNA. It was interesting to reread and reflect about our progress. The way we shaped our initial bets and measurement strategies was fairly right. We still have lots to improve, but it felt good. Product Management in systems feels like an infinite game of Tetris. But we had some good moments and we are collecting the benefits.

Elliot Greaves, our talented Front End engineer, can be credit for a a lot of this success. He was my third hire on the DNA team. I learn so much stuff with him, I am even interested in coding again after so many years. He found a new job and is leaving the company soon. I will miss his work ethics, collaboration skills, curiosity and devotion to make everything great.

Learned things permalink

The balance on participation and facilitation permalink

Had a few challenges while facilitating sessions this week. Two lessons learned. Number one is improve my ability to read the room. And second, being more intentional about clarifying structure, agenda and the role of facilitation. And this remind me of Dr.Hu's Radical Clarity which is now another post-it note in my monitor.

Peer mentoring permalink

I've met Justin Stach this week for a chat. He is a design leader that I respect a lot. He is sharp, honest and a great communicator. We have shared interest in many things and similar challenges in working in scale-ups. We also have two great designers in our common network: Jack Roles and Deborah Nogueira.

We discussed many topics. Remote work, agile, designers becoming product people. And the ethical challenges for design in late capitalism.

It was an open and honest conversation. Talking with someone that doesn't have skin in the same game as you is helpful. Perspective is a blessing. He reminded me that what matters is to have fun and enjoy the work.

Agile, Design and Strategy permalink

Designers have their brains wired with the double diamond. Navigating ambiguity, politics and possible futures is part of their skillset. Architects love to discuss ways of solving a specific problem. Developers prefer to start with clarity: what we can ship and iterate. So each discipline has its planning processes and expectations about envisioning and planning. The lack of shared language sometimes moves the focus on only optimisation - between disciplines and feature teams.

We tend to see the world through our discipline lens and bias. The role of Product is to create the balancing act. Its ok to disagree and commit.

That is why strategy is a different animal. A conversation debt needs acknowledgment before moving forward. Alignment and attention are key. You need to surrender the past to create space for imagination. In the book Intertwingled, Peter Morville shared one of the reasons why this can be hard to achieve sometimes:

We plan events, trips, families, sites, systems, companies, and cities. We do it all the time but make the same mistakes. First, we procrastinate. We fear complexity, so we start too late. Then, in a hurry, we split ideas and execution into phases or roles. We draw lines in our minds that segregate. The binary oppositions of think-do and plan-build are myths. Like yin and yang, these seemingly separate forces interrelated and entangled.

Strategy is a beast - you have to find the joy of not knowing things and ask too many questions. This is usually uncomfortable. Rob Campell recently shared this gem on twitterthat touchs in the nerve:

Strategy is inherently political because strategy is about what is going on in culture and politics is always entrenched in that. If some strategists think politics isn't part of culture or culture isn't part of strategy, they've got some really big issues they need to work on.

A black swan event just happened. The global crisis makes predictions just silly. So no matter how smart you think you are, you gonna be wrong. Optimism is a starting, energy to adapt and perseverance goes a long way. There are many ways. But there is no Way of Ways, unfortunately.

Things that bring me joy permalink

Valentines Day with her permalink

12th of June is Valentines in Brazil. I forgot to buy flowers, and Leili was a bit disappointed. But we celebrated anyway. We danced, shared a gin and watched This is Us. Tears and smiles. So much love in that show...

Tai-chi permalink

I am practising Tai-chi for about a month now. The choreography is more natural for me, and I can focus on breathing and slowing down my movements. It's remarkable how this exercise disconnects me from the world. I rarely keep any habit related to fitness, so I am so happy with this.

Discovering the BBC catalogue permalink

After a long time, I finally decided to pay for a TV license. I could not see much value before, as I have many streaming options and not enough time. But I could not afford not to watch Killing Eve. I asked #lazytwitter recommendations for BBC shows, and I got some great suggestions from Dr Rosie and a Brazilian friend. Here is the list of suggested BBC shows and will be watching next:

  • Inside Number 9
  • Happy Valley
  • Devs
  • Line of Duty
  • Peaky Blinders
  • Gavin & Stacey

Healthcheck permalink

Some pain in the back and neck, due to ergonomic problems in my home office setup. Meditation and painkillers helped me with this.

Weight: 98.5 kg
Food: Some junk food but not too many. Dishoom, Honest. Delicious cake in the saturday.
Drinks: A gin
Smoking: 12 Juul pods. Trialling CBD.

"A man who has no imagination has no wings." Muhammad Ali