This page was inspired by the Now project by Derek Sivers.
Teresa: Right Now
This Week: WDS 2017
I haven’t been very good about working out loud, mostly because I haven’t been doing work other than my coaching calls. It’s summer and I’m optimizing for outside play time over work.
This week is the World Domination Summit in Portland. It’s a funny name for an event, but it’s one of my favorite weeks of the year. The conference is about the question, how to live a remarkable life in a conventional world, and centers on three core values: service, community, and adventure. Now that’s something I can get behind.
This will be my fifth year at the event. Coming to Portland for WDS is a big part of the reason why I ended up moving here. It’s fun to catch up with old friends and this year I have two friends joining me for the first time and a third who is coming to either her 2nd or 3rd WDS (it’s hard to keep it all straight).
I’ll be sure to share some of the highlights here.
Validating vs. Co-Creating
June 5, 2017
I’m noticing a trend where product teams tend to fall into the trap of using their customer touch points to validate their ideas rather than to co-create with their customers.
Do you wait until your design is done to get feedback from customers? Do you delay your customer touch points until you are ready? This is good side that you are validating rather than co-creating.
When we look to validate we are susceptible to confirmation bias, we only see what we want to see, that our idea works. We also fall into a one-way conversation with our customers where we tell them what they should want, rather than listening to what they need.
When we co-create with our customers, we start a two-way conversation where we bridge their needs with what we know is possible with technology. This is what leads to innovative solutions.
Creating SpaceMay 24, 2017
I intentionally create space in my schedule to create. This can be anything from writing blog posts, to working on my curriculum, to fun side projects that I want to tackle.
But it can be hard to protect that time on my calendar. Between the last week of April through mid-May, I took three trips (Chicago, Omaha, and Salt Lake City). And then my mom was in town for a week. So yesterday was the first time in several weeks that I had a whole day where there was nothing on my calendar and I got to work on whatever I wanted. It was such a relief. It had been way too long and it reminded how much I need these days.
I spent the morning working on curriculum content. I wrote up a big piece on why you need to experiment to help you prioritize solutions not just to evaluate single solutions. I’ll edit it on Friday, my next create day. This content is part of my coaching curriculum, but elements of it may end up on Product Talk. We’ll see.
And I spent the afternoon reading the research on distributed leadership. The product world is quickly moving to the trio / triad model where the product manager, lead designer, and lead engineer are jointly responsible for product outcomes. I think this is necessary, but hard to do in practice. We aren’t used to working on teams where we distribute leadership across multiple people. I’ll be writing a blog post about this on Product Talk once I’ve got a handle on the literature.
Still working on working out loud.
May 19, 2017
I’m still working on getting better at working out loud. It’s been over a week since I’ve written. That’s for two reasons:
1. It’s easy for me to get caught up in doing. I usually have more on my to do list than I can accomplish and it’s hard to set aside time to reflect. Even thought i know it’s important.
2. I still don’t feel totally comfortable writing about my normal day to day work. It feels too routine or uninteresting.
I’m determined to push past both of these reasons, as I know there’s value in working out loud.
So on to today …
Fridays are usually “No Meeting” days for me. It’s when I do the bulk of my writing, iterate on my curriculum, and work on my business. Due to travel two weeks ago and Karen (my admin) visiting last Friday, today was my first “no meetings” Friday in a few weeks.
It felt great to wake up and have the whole day ahead of me to just get work done. I cranked through my May newsletter in an hour. That felt great. I’m excited to share some great content by Jeff Gothelf, Jeff Patton, Farnam Street, and much more. It comes out on May 28th. Sign up here.
I also cranked out some new curriculum content on generating solutions bounded by a single target opportunity. For my May teams, I’m creating Academy content as they need it. I need the deadlines to produce content efficiently, otherwise I let it drag on forever. It’s working out well. I only have two more weeks of content to produce and then I get to start refining and adding supplemental content.
I’m going to spend the rest of the afternoon reading everything I can find on leaderless teams. More on that soon.
May 10, 2017
I spent yesterday in Salt Lake City at Front, a product & UX conference. I presented a case study about Arity, an Allstate company, and how they are adopting continuous product discovery across the organization.
The case study highlighted how two teams adopted a regular cadence of customer interviews, rapid prototypes, and product experiments. I was a little worried that the talk would seem obvious to a product and design crowd, but it wasn’t. People got a lot out of it. It’s a good reminder that even thought we’ve come a long way we still have a long way to go.
It’s good to see the tech scene in SLC grow and the folks that run Front do an excellent job. I was glad to be able to be a part of it.
May 8, 2017
I spent the weekend in Omaha at the Berkshire Hathaway annual shareholder meeting. This is one of the coolest things I’ve ever done. I got the opportunity to go with a group of 30 executives through Collaborative Gain. We got to learn from Whitney Tilson and Sam Taylor. Whitney is the editor of one of my all-time favorite books, Poor Charlie’s Almanack: The Wit and Wisdom of Charlie Munger and Sam is the CEO of the Oriental Trading Company (a Berkshire Hathaway company. Both were a real treat and were a valuable supplement to Saturday’s content.
It’s easy to think of Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger as investors or shrewd businessmen, and they are impressive in both of those realms. But I admire both for their critical thinking skills, for the decision making prowess, and for their strong moral grounding. We couldn’t ask for better people as business role models. I enjoyed every minute of the annual shareholder meeting and can’t wait to do it again.
Too much travel!
May 4, 2017
I’m in the midst of a couple of hectic weeks. I was in Chicago last week, I’m heading to Omaha tonight, and I’ll be in Salt Lake City next week. And, of course, I’m trying to fit in all my regular work in between the cracks.
I’m still working on the final touches for my Front talk in Salt Lake City. I hate cutting it this close, but no matter how early I start, this always happens. The good news is I’m really happy with the way this talk is shaping up.
I have a blog post coming out on Wednesday about managing product teams that I’m also really excited about.
And I’m creating a whole new set of content for my coaching teams. So my days are super full. But I’m loving every second of it.
The Omaha trip is to go the Berkshire Hathaway annual shareholder meeting. That’s a bucket list item for me. So, yay!
I love the start of the month.
May 1, 2017
At the start of each month, I get to work with a couple of new product teams. I love hearing about what they are working on, what their goals are, and why they are excited to learn continuous product discovery. I love it even more at the end of their thee months when they are doing continuous product discovery. 🙂
I made significant progress on my Front talk. I’m sharing a case study about one of my clients and was originally planning to share two teams’ stories. But today I decided to swap one of the teams for another as I think there’s more to relate to. While Keynote (or any presentation software) isn’t my favorite creation tool, I love the process of thinking about what the audience will take home after having heard my talk and then crafting a story to help them get there.
I ended the day meeting Liz Blink who is visiting from Melbourne, Australia. She’s visiting Portland for a conference. It’s fun to meet product people from around the world. We had a great chat over a couple of beers and to-die-for fried chicken, biscuit sandwiches.
Testing out Rainmaker Pro
April 30, 2017
Even though it was Sunday, I spent a good amount of the day testing out the Rainmaker Pro platform. I currently use a combination of Wordpress, MailChimp, Buffer, and Zippy Courses to deliver content. I like the appeal of a consolidated platform.
There are a few things that I wish Rainmaker did better. Why don’t any of these LMS platforms track student outcomes? I don’t want to insert a quiz to track progress. For any given course, I want to know what percentage of students reached each step and how far any individual made it. This isn’t rocket science.
But I suppose if you are more concerned with selling courses and less concerned with teaching, it makes perfect sense. Sigh.
Painfully Slow Content Creation
Friday, April 28, 2017
Today has been a painfully slow content creation day.
I spent the morning working on my talk for the Front conference in Utah in early May. I like the way this talk is shaping up. It’s a compelling story that has some good lessons for all product teams. But I’m painfully slow at creating slide decks. I need to find someone to do this for me.
I spent my afternoon working on a draft of a Product Talk post about managing autonomous teams. I’m really happy with the way this article is turning out. My shitty first draft is much further along than I had thought and I expect to publish this in the next two weeks.
I’m still recovering from a very full week in Chicago, so today was a short work day for me.