The Weeknotes where I talk about what I’m doing recently

Close-up of a street sculpture in Exeter

Within these work walls

ONE. PRODUCT JOB DESCRIPTIONS.

A large thread at the moment is cleaning up our product-ownership/management job descriptions. We’ve never really established a “proper” PO job description until now, as a small company – the title has been useful in some ways (identifying a singly accountable person, as a handy umbrella) but tricky in others (often evolved and reactive as new ideas come along, rather than organised and clear). We’re looking at a distinction between strategy for a product vs delivery of a product, which has given the strategic side more of a ‘information coordinator’ bias – ie information gathering, rather than deciding what to do. I like that.

Personally, I get a lot out of job descriptions and role tidying. In my had, it’s basically the same job as software architecture – which role(/class) is responsible for which tasks(/functionality) – and what are the relationships and communications (/interfaces) with other actors in the system.

TWO. CODE OPTIMISATION IS FUN.

Friday I got back onto some heavier code optimisation, down in the darker depths of the codebase. I wrote the code years ago and it served to simplify our development process a lot. But it’s inefficient like a treacle truck, and there are some key improvements that – thanks to git submodules – could affect all of our sites without much re-implementation.

I enjoy this shit really – there’s a careful, methodical route to attack a problem. Know that something is doable, map the system out, plan out the moves, think of the drawbacks, sanity check, then Write the Magic Words and see if all your theory was right. It’s like chess crossed with Lego crossed with a house of cards.

THREE. GOOD QUALITY LEADING.

I wrote this in my notes:

What does “artisan tech leadership” look like?

Like, if I ran a tech team like I ran a posh coffee shop. What are the things you’d stand out for, that you plastered up on your blackboards, that people tried to describe to friends with faraway, confused looks on their faces?

ARTISAN LEADERSHIP. A space vessel caught up in people’s every day lives. A hint of magic like a job reality which only exists in dreams.

Pin your banner to the flagpole. Stand up for what you believe in – to lead a team is to describe a world you want to exist. Worldbuilding is a Real Thing now, now that our mental reality and our physical/economic realities are intertwined with virtual words, transient networks, branded avatars.

I haven’t got the hang of it yet, but I know it is there somewhere.

FOUR. COMFORT = CHANGE.

More on leadership. Catherine Howe talks about psychological support for systemic change:

It is a role of leadership to create an environment of psychological safety – or perhaps it’s better described as making it possible for teams to create their own safety. One of the major tools of leadership (and resilience) is understanding the difference between your circle of control, your circle of influence – and then what my colleague Giulia calls the soup – the stuff that we have not influence or control over. Psychological safety demands that your team also has alignment about what they can and cannot change and a mandate to get the work done. The issue can be that the work then becomes to some extent closed off – the psychological safety of the team effectively becoming a barrier for wider collaboration – a barrier to the actual work.

Amen. Ties back strongly to my own thoughts on comfort zones.

“In Other News” *

  • I published 29 B&W photos for April. Some don’t fit so well, but I’m pleased with each for different reasons.
  • I’ve been writing week notes a bit less recently. I’ve been focusing largely on reading, TBH – a few books have really sucked me in recently and I’m deep into Calvino’s If On A Winter’s Night A Traveler which is the essay equivalent of a dream.
  • I’ve been getting back to the solarpunk experiment this month, which has got me thinking about use of tech again. I’ve purchased an old Nexus 7 tablet from ebay which I’m now using purely to read RSS feeds and saved links. I want to have a better “reading” experience generally – not just inline commenting a la Medium. Like, “reading net content from other people as something I enjoy.” So far, so good. And if it can be solar-powered, so much the better.
  • I’ve also installed a podcast app FOR THE FIRST TIME and have subscribed to two podcasts FOR THE FIRST TIME. One is 65daysofstatic’s Bleak Strategies because I is fan. The other is Craig Mod’s 945 binaural recordings from Japan – with audio from temples and coffee shops, I’m finding this realllllly good background for working, reading, and generally relaxing.
  • Random thought: Why is formatting bullet-pointed lists the bane of my life this century?

* H/T Giuseppe 😉