It’s People. Our Product is People.

A common saying in the internet-era is

If you aren’t paying for it, you are the product

Increasingly though I’ve started realising that in my world

If you are getting paid for it, you are the product

As someone who identifies as a product management professional I rarely actual manage any products anymore. As a consultant (am I a consultant? I don’t really know…) it is my knowledge, network and experience (and that of my colleagues) that my company sells. We are the product…and increasingly for me I am a product with a built in expiry date – the successful outcome is to be successfully replaced.

This is probably why I have become so fixated on ‘people operations’ – being better at hiring, developing, retaining, mentoring and just managing people seems the most important and useful place to spend my time educating myself. There is so much information out there about what both good and bad looks like and yet so little seems to actually change.

I’ve been circling this for years – since I started my newsletter at a minimum – but I’ve decided to use my new ‘day off’ in my four day week to get more serious about it.

The start is my job ads/description research which has started with the survey and will be followed up with some interviews and collected in a blogpost or two at some point.

I’m also looking to crowd-source recommendations for a reading list – especially on fairer, more diverse hiring, interviewing, ‘onboarding’ (hate that term so a replacement word would be good as well) and developing healthy cultures that reinforces everything. Blogposts, books, papers whatever. I’ve read a lot on the topic(s) but want to broaden my perspective.

Oh and any recommendations for online Futurelearn (or whoever) courses about ‘people’ stuff as well.

I have no clear end game in sight for any of this but for the next few months it seems like a rabbit hole worth diving down.

We’ll see.

Public Service Internet jobs: 13/01/2019

Internet of Public Service jobs’ is a weekly list of vacancies related to product management, user experience, data and design in…you guessed it…the ‘internet of public service’ curated by @jukesie every Sunday.

Sign up for the weekly email at tinyletter.com/jukesie


[01] Digital Engagement Manager
Government Digital Service
London
£31,339
Closing date: 20/01/2019

[02] Delivery Operations Lead
Good Things Foundation
Remote (base in Sheffield)
£27,000 — £37,000
Closing date: 20/01/2019

[03] Chief Digital Officer
Scottish Government
Edinburgh
£60,379 — £69,690
Closing date: 06/02/2019

[04] Senior ICT Delivery Manager
Hackney Council
London
£47,304 — £51,117
Closing date: 23/01/2019

[05] Service Designer
dxw
London
£50,000 — £65,000
Closing date: Not available

[06] Senior Delivery Manager
Office for National Statistics
Newport
£54,400-£65,499
Closing date: 27/01/2019

[07] Director for Service Design and Assurance
Government Digital Service
London
£130,000
Closing date: 11/02/2019

[08] Head of Content Design
Office for National Statistics
Newport
£54,400-£65,499
Closing date: 27/01/2019

[09] Programme Manager (Digital Health)
Nesta
London
£38,000 — £50,000
Closing date: 29/01/2019

[10] Head of Innovation
British Red Cross
London
£65,000
Closing date: 21/01/2019

Internet of Public Service Jobs: 02/12/2018

‘Internet of Public Service jobs’ is a weekly list of vacancies related to product management, user experience, data and design in…you guessed it…the ‘internet of public service’ curated by @jukesie every Sunday.

Sign up for the weekly email at tinyletter.com/jukesie


[01] Chief Operating Officer
Raspberry Pi Foundation
Cambridge
£90,000
Closing date: 07/01/2019

[02] ICT Finance Manager
Croydon Council
Croydon
£49,458 — £51,453
Closing date: 10/12/2018

[03] Senior User Researcher
Citizens Advice
London
£44,137 plus £3,520 London Allowance
Closing date: 19/12/2018

[04] Senior Policy Advisor
Open Data Institute 
London
£50,000
Closing date: 09/12/2018

[05] Director of Customer Experience, Digital and Data
Department for Education
Coventry, Manchester, Darlington or Sheffield
£108,000
Closing date: 21/12/2018

[06] Senior Performance Analyst
Office for National Statistics
Newport
£35,200 — £40,249
Closing date: 09/12/2018

[07] Digital Content Officer
Francis Crick Institute 
London
£32,105
Closing date: 16/12/2018

[08] Data Analyst
Parliament Digital Service
London
£30,452 — £36,532
Closing date: 16/12/2018

[09] Design Lead
Comic Relief
London
£60,000 — £68,000
Closing date: 10/12/2018

[10] Senior Product Manager
Canadian Digital Service 
Ottawa


Thanks to the 112 of you who completed my little survey — I’ve found it very interesting. The three lucky winners of the books will get an email this evening.

Neither art nor science — a peculiar product philosophy


I am starting to think I need to stop referring to myself as a ‘product manager’ as increasingly I find myself wondering where I fit in to the profession.

science
a systematically organised body of knowledge on a particular subject.

On the one hand there is an increasing trend of cookie cutter product ‘owners’ educated in the Scrum method and proudly displaying their certificates. This is a process driven, systematic approach to the mechanics of ‘product’. There are certainly some benefits to the consistency of approach this provides organisations and individuals but it isn’t something I am comfortable with or to be honest that interested in.

There is a bottomless pit of tools, frameworks, systems, approaches, processes and techniques just out there waiting to be dipped into. No two teams are the same nor are any two products when you get into it so I want to just reach for the best tools for the job on the team for the people in front of me. I want to control the ways of working to get the best results — not follow a path written by someone who never met me and my team.

There is also a growing trend for metrics driven product management. I am torn about this — I like the idea of being ‘data informed’ (I’m a big fan of the Jim Barksdale quote → “If we have data, let’s look at data. If all we have are opinions, let’s go with mine.”) but I do think there is a certain tyranny with metrics and they should be used carefully and sparingly — remember ‘lies, damned lies and statistics’.

art
works produced by human creative skill and imagination.

That said I am also not someone who is able to rely on instincts and ‘gut feel’ despite what I sometimes seem to be suggesting! There is definitely a need for creative thinking and imagination in ‘product’ work — you need to visualise and articulate that vision, find the words to communicate to everyone involved and sometimes fill in the gaps when all you have to show are lines of code and Post-It notes. This is nearer art than science and it isn’t something that is adequately covered in those ‘certifications’.

Being creative alone isn’t enough though — it needs reigning in. You need the constraints of a ‘minimal viable bureaucracy’ to give things guard rails and structure.

philosophy 
a theory or attitude that acts as a guiding principle for behaviour.

My favourite take on being a product person in public service came from Ross Ferguson — it is these principles that underpin my whole philosophy and it is a philosophy I follow rather than anything else — it is an ‘attitude that acts as a guiding principle for behaviour.’ I don’t always live up to it but this is how I try to work and what I try to pass on to other product people transitioning from other roles →

  • Lead without authority
  • Take blame, give credit away
  • Make good decisions with imperfect information
  • Prepare for what’s next
  • Navigate through mistakes and crises
  • Operate optimally under pressure
  • Prioritise people

Internet of Public Service Jobs: 11/11/2018

‘Internet of Public Service jobs’ is a weekly list of vacancies related to product management, user experience, data and design in…you guessed it…the ‘internet of public service’ curated by @jukesie every Sunday.

Sign up for the weekly email at tinyletter.com/jukesie


[01] User Research Manager
Devon County Council
Exeter
£36,153 — £39,961
Closing date: 21/11/2018

[02] Makerspace Manager
University of Edinburgh
Edinburgh
£33,199 to £39,609
Closing date: 30/11/2018

[03] Researcher
Doteveryone
London
£24,000 — £32,000
Closing date: 23/11/2018

[04] Senior Service Designer
Ministry of Justice
Birmingham or Nottingham
£60,500
Closing date: 30/11/2018

[05] Data Science Capability Delivery Manager
Office for National Statistics
Newport
£35,200
Closing date: 25/11/2018

[06] Associate Delivery Manager
Department of Health and Social Care
London
£38,684 — £39,196
Closing date: 26/11/2018

[07] Delivery Manager (Agile)
Wellcome
London
£40,000 — £50,000
Closing date: 25/11/2018

[08] ICT & Digital Services Manager
Adur & Worthing Councils
Worthing
£54,699 — £62,839
Closing date: 26/11/2018

[09] Head of Digital
Reprieve 
London
£42,739
Closing date: 27/11/2018

[10] Product and Delivery Management Graduate
NHS Digital
Leeds
£23,023
Closing date: 07/12/2018