PRODUCTHEAD: New year’s resolutions

PRODUCTHEAD: New year’s resolutions

PRODUCTHEAD is a regular newsletter of product management goodness,
curated by Jock Busuttil.

sit down. product up


tl;dr

Make small changes and embrace experimentation

People may have a sincere commitment to change, while also unwittingly applying productive energy toward a hidden competing commitment.

Extreme situations can build extreme understanding and can also push people apart

Does our current worldview limit the way we think about organisations?


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hello

Happy new year!

At this time of year, I have a long-standing tradition of creating for myself a long list of resolutions that I then carefully ignore.

I’m pretty certain I do this because I set myself big, hairy, audacious goals, while conveniently forgetting that I’m both a massive procrastinator and an Olympic gold medallist at finding other inconsequential things to do instead.

The strange thing is that I really do want to achieve those big, hairy, audacious goals, and when Lovely Wife™ calls out my procrastination, my excuses for not starting just don’t stand up to any real scrutiny.

A lot of the work I do involves helping people to collectively change their working habits to become more evidence-led, user-centric product people. Quite often, particularly with the people I coach, they already have the desire and motivation to change; that’s partly what prompted them to seek out a product management coach in the first place.

In contrast, when I’m working with organisations, there’s often a real spread of people with varying levels of desire and motivation to change their working practices. They understand the potential benefits of doing things differently, but these are often outweighed by the stress they associate with having to change the way they’re working.

So nothing actually changes, perhaps apart from a token rebrand of their working practices to now be ‘agile’. And the people who really do want to change become increasingly frustrated by their colleagues’ collective inertia.

If you, like me, are staring at a list of big, hairy, audacious goals and despairing quietly to yourself, try making a much smaller change first, something that moves you just a tiny bit closer to where you want to be. See if you can make it stick, and review the results. Then make another small change and repeat. Later on, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how much progress you’ve made.

Behavioural change, whether in yourself or others, is a tremendously fascinating topic. This week I’ve pulled together some thought-provoking content on changing behaviours.

Speak to you soon,

Jock



what to think about this week

Embracing change or bracing for change

I often give Agile training for people and teams new to Agile, one thing that I tend to cover is the Agile Manifesto and its principles. I talk about agile teams embracing change and ask people if they embrace change. All too often the answer is along the lines of “change is thrown at us all the time and we deal with it”, I’ve come to explain this as bracing for change rather than going out and seeking it (embracing change).

This talk is designed to help you understand some reasons that people resist change and give you some tools to use with your own teams and organisations.

Some pragmatic tips for changing teams

[EMILY WEBBER / TACIT LONDON]

The real reason people won’t change

It’s a psychological dynamic called a “competing commitment,” and until managers understand how it works and the ways to overcome it, they can’t do a thing about change-resistant employees.

How to uncover a competing commitment

[ROBERT KEGAN & LISA LAHEY / HARVARD BUSINESS REVIEW]



Change your team’s culture overnight

Culture is based on what people do. A team with a psychologically safe culture will outperform any other team, even with less resources. Now is the ideal time to change your culture and you can do so by spending time listening, empathising and trusting each other.

A team’s culture is driven by the way they work

[JAMES GADSBY PEET / MEDIUM]

Lean and agile adoption with the Laloux culture model

Viewing agile and lean within the broader cultural context proposed by Frederic Laloux in his book Reinventing Organizations can help us make sense of why some organisations might struggle to fully adopt them and give us some ideas of how to focus on culture as a key element in any change.

Why lean and agile adoption efforts often struggle

[PETER GREEN / HUMANIZING WORK]

recent posts

6 tips for presenting slides that don’t suck

This is an updated version of an article I wrote over a decade ago.

All product managers will need to stand up and present to others at some point. Some people are less comfortable giving a presentation than others; that’s natural. Either way, you won’t be helping yourself (or your audience) if your slide deck is atrocious. So here are my 6 tips for presenting slides that don’t suck.

Ditch the slides if you can

[I MANAGE PRODUCTS]

My boss wants to set me an OKR on revenue growth. Is this right?

My boss wants to set me a personal OKR [objective and key result] to achieve revenue growth through demonstrable product improvements.

Can you think of any reasons why I should push back on a suggestion like this?

G

Revenue is a rubbish choice of metric

[I MANAGE PRODUCTS]

5 tips to ace your first impression at a new job

Because so much of product management is about working with people, it’s important to take time to reflect on the kind of first impression you make to those people. In this latest entry for my series of 100 things I’ve learned about product management, I share some coaching advice to help you make the best possible impression every time you start working somewhere new.

Best foot forward

[I MANAGE PRODUCTS]

upcoming talks and events

I’ve spoken at various product management and technology conferences around the world and online. I share ideas primarily on the topic of product management, and this tends to overlap with agile and ethical product development, leadership and strategy, and fostering healthy product cultures and communities.


“Day 2 saw an impressive presentation by Jock Busuttil on user testing. He asked the attendees to lend each other a smartphone and take a picture. What a turmoil that caused ;-) ”

Walter Schärer

Walter Schärer
Marketing & Business Development Director, BlueGlass Interactive


If you’d like to book me to speak at your event, please get in touch.

can we help you?

Product People is a product management services company. We can help you through consultancy, training and coaching. Just contact us if you need our help!

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Helping people build better products, more successfully, since 2012.

PRODUCTHEAD is a newsletter for product people of all varieties, and is lovingly crafted from discarded new year’s resolutions.


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Read more from Jock

The Practitioner's Guide to Product Management book cover

The Practitioner's Guide To Product Management

by Jock Busuttil

“This is a great book for Product Managers or those considering a career in Product Management.”

— Lyndsay Denton

Jock is a freelance head of product, author and conference speaker. He has spent nearly two decades working with technology companies to improve their product management practices, from startups to multinationals. His clients include the BBC, University of Cambridge, and the UK's Ministry of Justice and Government Digital Service (GDS). In 2012 Jock founded Product People Limited, a product management consultancy and training company. He is also the author of the popular book The Practitioner's Guide to Product Management and the blog I Manage Products.

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