Week notes: 13 – 19 May 2024

Buckingham Palace garden party, Interesting 2024, OKR advocacy, good luck being dead.

Let’s start in the middle, with Wednesday.

I went to the Buckingham Palace garden party for the creative industries and Interesting 2024 – both brilliant firsts but a bit much in combination, racking up 17,500 steps and more sun and social interaction than I can handle in one day!

But all good stuff for the journal, grandkids and deathbed.

Garden party

Professionally, I’m grateful for His Highness’s patronage. Personally, I’m lukewarm on monarchy as a thing, but given it is a thing it was a buzz to be invited and an afternoon to remember (which I’m unable to actually do, so let’s capture a few notes here!) 

  • The forecast said cloudy but they lied. I was hot in my suit and glad of my shades
  • The gardens were expensively manicured and expansive; and the cucumber sandwiches, tea and cakes were on point 
  • I got to know new teamie David Hamilton, did some hosting of BFI’s VIP guests, and had chats with various colleagues 
  • I stood next to Louis Theroux, spotted Arlene Phillips and Toby Jones, spoke to Amit Shah (who is in Joy’s film) and Ella Glendening (who made a joyous film with BFI support), but failed to spy Maya Jama, Ridley Scott or Barry Keoghan who were somewhere in the crowd of 4,000+
  • I complimented a bloke on his extraordinary outfit, only later realising he might be a famous fashion person
  • I used the facilities – something I can now say I’ve done in Downing St, Parliament and Buckingham Palace. Bingo!
  • It’s a hugely impressive operation – with silver service-esque security who appear from nowhere, a well-staffed tea tent, and seamless manoeuvring of sprawling crowds into neat lanes. The slick operation is probably the thing I enjoyed most!
  • In spite of myself, it made me appreciate the worth of this kind of event and the work it takes. It felt special and made a lot of people feel valued for their contribution.

I absented myself from the lines of people trying to get a moment with the King or Queen, and found some royal goslings to say hello to instead. But when I came back I somehow ended up in exactly the right place to pap their majesties. A security person (from nowhere) tapped me on the shoulder and said “that’s too close” – then told various others to not take photos in such close proximity to HRHs. 

Still, here they are:

Interesting 2024

Interesting was niche-interesting! James Whatley has listed all the talks here. I especially loved Ben’s fun rant about failures in modern tap design as evidenced by all the A4 notices explaining how to use them.

Other highlights were Sonia on compost, Anna on pensions and Gianfranco on Matcha tea. And just the general vibes, bunting, and Russell’s special sauce flavouring the whole thing. 

I skipped the last few talks because it was running over and I was knackered and discombobulated from an unusual afternoon, an encounter with an acerbic ex-GDSer on arrival, and reunion chats with (lovely!) folks while feeling not at all myself in my garden party attire. 

It’s a fab event, and I don’t know why it took me so long to go to one. Reckon I’ll go again next year, and hopefully not also get a once-in-a-lifetime invitation to something else (that requires me to become someone else and drains my social battery) on the same day!

An aside on OKR advocacy

Jukesie wrote this in his latest jobsletter

Neil Williams – one of the biggest OKR advocates I know – linked to a post that sums up my ill will towards them. It includes this quote that sums up the current state of product management to me: “I wish teams did not feel the pressure to adopt complex frameworks that are constraining them and slowing them down”.

Nice to be described this way! I do bang on about OKRs a lot, don’t I? 

But – reflecting on that – I think what I’m really advocating for is mission command and aligned autonomy. Empowering and aligning teams through clearly-expressed missions, with freedom to figure out how, and just enough checking-in to close the gaps between plans, actions and results

A diagram showing a continuous circle of plans, actions and results. Between each point there is a box describing the gaps: knowledge gap (between results and plans), alignment gap (between plans and actions) and effects gap (between actions and results). In green text are the mitigations to close these gaps: communicate clear intent, allow people to define how and report back, and give people freedom to adjust actions in line with intent.

In other words I fell for Wodtke and Doerr but only after first falling for Bungay and the Spotify model.

I’ve latched onto OKRs as the best available format for expressing intent, giving autonomy and reporting back (like a macro version of user stories, which are the best available format to specify desired outcomes and acceptance criteria for product features). 

The rest of OKR doctrine is perhaps best taken with a pinch of salt and adapted to your team’s needs. And I’m well open to variants like NCTs. Whatever works to close those gaps!

Other bits

My desk days mostly focused on cybersecurity. Learning loads, and (with help) I finished off a Board paper I’m proud of. 

I got involved in final round interviews for lead PM on BFI Player. Two great candidates, one offer made. 

So far so good on Dylan’s GCSEs, he’s come home happy each day.

There was a monster slug in our porch which I dealt with while yelling GOOD LUCK BEING DEAD which really expressed how I felt in that moment. Some of you may balk at this murder of an innocent but I’d willingly take total collapse of the food chain for a world without slugs.

Part of our soffits or possibly fascias fell down. 

I like kombucha now.

🔎 Found, interesting 🧐

Listening, watching, playing, reading, cooking

  • It was well worth completing 🎬 The Twilight Saga just for 🎧 How Did This Get Made – a cause of many LOLs on public transport this week!
  • 🎬 Lynch/Oz. Rented on BFI Player. Made me want to watch all of Lynch in order.
  • 📺 Taskmaster cont. Ghosts cont.
  • 🍳 Joel and I made perfect lemonade.
  • 📺 New Doctor Who. First two were sub-Numberjacks if you ask me. Third much better.
  • 🎬 Birdman. My 5th time, the kids’ 1st. I adore it!
  • 🎧 OURDOGISMISSING EP, Ivy Lab

Distractions

Here ends the last weeknote of my pre-Furiosa era. Do you have it in you to make it epic? See you on the other side.

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