Product management

Summer 2020

What a year!

As previously written, for me, 2019 was awful.

Towards the end of 2019 as the brain switched back on to matters of career. I focussed more on Scrum and agile in general, with the PSM-I to at least reduce the barrier to entry with an Agile employer.

bootlacehankymask

Opportunities to interview were starting to improve, then, COVID-19!

Considering what the family went through last year, we can only be thankful that we didn’t have that to deal with on top of everything – and of course thinking of those having to cope in this year’s circumstances.

Of course career opportunities and those roles that were looking promising quickly dried up in March/April. Now, with lots more people entering the job market, the immediate future looks challenging. My focus remains on finding a role within an Agile/Scrum environment, where I can transfer tonnes of digital experience along with the last couple of years of learning Scrum/Agile/Product. That learning needs to be put into practice.

I got my hands on a new Mac, so I am bang up to date with OS versions and current software. The big screen is ideal for working with JIRA, Miro and Lucidchart.

So, learning and self-improvement continues, and I’ve added a reading list of the resources I have found most useful. This blog will be kept more up to date as and when I find things that I think are worth sharing.

Sunny day in the park

All said and done, long walks everyday have been a good way to clear the mind and start the day.

Posted by creacog in Personal, Product management, 0 comments

Qualifying in Scrum

I have worked in largely non-Agile, non-Scrum organisations. With my Product ambitions, ensuring my next role is Agile is something of a challenge. I have stacks of experience of handling the sort of problems that always arise in any event – mostly due to change management. My feeling is that in a Scrum environment, through its three pillars of Transparency, Inspection and Adaptation change should be immediately easier to handle, not harder.

I decided to certify. Being self-funded, the Scrum Alliance route was going to be out of my reach, so PSM via Scrum.org is my way to go. The prospect of having to pay to to re-sit the test is extra motivation to put in the work to pass first time and there really is more to it than just reading the scrum guide a few times. My route:

On completion of the assessment, a score report is returned with percentage achievement by focus area (e.g. Product Value) with corresponding links to specific resources if improvement is needed in those areas.

So, for me Job Done now to learn by doing!

PSM I

Awarded: Dec 13, 2019

Concluding, the study and practice assessments were all valuable experience and leave me more determined than ever to work in an Agile, preferably Scrum environment going forwards.

Posted by creacog in Agile, Product management, 0 comments

Summer 2019

I admit I am writing this retrospectively in 2020 and setting the publish date back to 2019, the context of these words.

A change in work was much needed, and I turned a redundancy into a sabbatical, the last months of 2018 It was de-stressing and an opportunity to explore some tech outside of my day-to-day. I studies VR applications from a user point of view, having got hold of an oculus Go and it was fun to launch my dad into space. I spent some time working through LinkedIn Learning courses on Unity and Blender, to get a feel for the development steps involved in getting an application onto the Go. I enjoyed the experience, however the application build times were enormous on my old 2008 Mac. I wrote up a few notes at the time. I also found a fairly comprehensive Product Management course on Udemy to work through: Become a Product Manager | Learn the Skills & Get the Job.

As we entered 2019, it became clear that my father’s cancer journey was taking a turn for the worse and after a frankly horrible time for him and those closest, we lost him this summer.

My sister especially put a huge amount of time into building the family tree on ancestry. My contribution mostly taking the form of PhotoShop restoration and repair of old family photos, many I hadn’t seen before. It was quite an emotional journey, with resulting images I am quite proud of, only saddened to be unable to share them and hear the tales first hand from those pictured. For example:
An important photo including my grandad and grandmother prior to a flight to the Isle of Man on a de Havilland Rapide in 1938. I took an experience flight in a similar aircraft in May of this year, flying out of Duxford.

Photograph of passengers about to board a de Havilland Dragon Rapide in 1938 - 2019 scan of the photo before repair
Before
Photograph of passengers about to board a de Havilland Dragon Rapide in 1938 - 2019 scan of the photo after repair
After

Posted by creacog in Personal, Photography, Product management, 0 comments

Agility before Agile

Having spent the last 6 years or so, mostly project managing things digital, web and mobile we selectively adopted some artefacts and ceremonies from Kanban and Scrum. However neither the organisation nor clients were ready to fully adopt Agile culture.

Meanwhile Agile has found its way beyond tech’ into traditionally conservative organisations including banking.

There was some agility before the Agile manifesto formally pulled it all together. As a Studio Manager in the late 1990s we had a few things right and which I feel map to Agile priorities:

  • Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
  • Customer collaboration over contract negotiation

We certainly recognised and valued staff who could work in multi-function teams.  We sought designers with technical aptitude and developers with an creative flair to ensure some overlap in skill-sets (T-shaped capability). A core project team consisted of a designer, developer and account manager. Any of whom might be project lead, based on the nature of the project. i.e. a very creative project may well be lead by a designer, functionally complex projects lead by a developer and content driven projects typically by an account manager.

At that time,  laptops were rare and hot-desking impractical with each person’s workstation often highly customised, big and heavy.

We redesigned our studio and it’s furniture to facilitate quick and easy team flexibility. Instead of benches of workstations, we had specially designed furniture arranged in clusters of four. Within the cluster, the centre space was kept clear with computer screens were arranged to the outer edge ensuring team members can see each other, easily communicate and view each screen content with a slight turn. Workstations consisted of desktop computer and monitor both on top of a customised mobile pedestal. Changing teams was simply a matter of unplugging and wheeling the workstation to the next cluster.

Two clusters of 4, ready for workstations
Wine and beer for the opening of the new studio

I haven’t found an environment quite like it since. Of course, laptops and WIFI make the ‘wheelie-workstation’ less necessary. I remain proud of the work we did in that studio, my colleagues and the way we worked together.

Posted by creacog in Agile, Product management, Work, 0 comments

Team ideas = development opportunities

A great video by Ableton showing what I consider to be an inspirational, positive, Product and Development environment. As my mindset shifts from ‘Project’ to ‘Product’, I feel this shows how the team’s knowledge and instincts provide a rich a source of product development ideas. After-all they are already signed up to the mission.

  • Agile makes it possible: (from 2 minutes) Transforming to best practice and an agile development culture improved code quality and development flexibility
  • Hack sprint: (from 6 minutes)
    • Every 5th sprint is a ‘Hack Sprint’, ‘hack’ ideas are put forward, teams formed and concrete demo’s built
    • Demos are presented back and pitched for roadmap inclusion

How this approach contributes to a positive culture of continuous improvement is clear from the video; company, product and personal.

Update: 9/9/2020, I noticed that unfortunately the video had been taken private. I am leaving this post in the hope it might become public once more.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tILlZRLhBJE

Posted by creacog in Developer, Product management, Sounds, 0 comments

Summer 2018

A note to self, looking back on my last post to see what actually was achieved since.

Step 1 – “Get some tooling” – CHECK. Applied to ageing personal web stuff.

Step 2 – “Read up Jeff Patton’s User Story Mapping” – CHECK. The key catchphrases stand up no matter what: “Build the right product”, “Shared understanding” and adding my own twist “develop the greatest effect soonest”. Definitely worth a second read and reference.

Step 3 – “Play with Docker” – PARTIAL CHECK. Our lead developer has built an excellent Docker based infrastructure at work, bringing greater reliability and efficiency. My home kit isn’t compatible yet, so Vagrant will suffice until I update.

Steps 4 and 5 – We did set about using JIRA, Confluence and Bitbucket and bringing legacy projects to them

Sadly it is time to move on from my employer, my next steps are to ensure I dedicate more time to:

  • Family
  • Exploring new tech – AR and VR of particular interest as it gains momentum as Oculus Go continues the process of bringing it mainstream
  • Gaining more Product Management experience, and Agile
  • Photography – In camera, editing and restoration – creacog on Flickr
  • Tidy up this blog – so much has changed in the last 6 years

Then possibly freelance until finding the next permanent role.

Posted by creacog in Agile, Personal, Product management, 0 comments