I used to be so bad at this it still makes me cringe.

Lovely Artemis Pebdani GIF By HULU via GIPHY

Let’s say I’d written a document and it was quite good. Someone would say “that was a really great document” and I would freeze. I had no idea how to respond. I might blurt out a rebuttal: “oh, it wasn’t that good.” The person paying the compliment would insist that no, really, it was very good and I shouldn’t be so modest. Then I’d be dealing with a compliment I didn’t know how to handle about my work, and a piece of personal advice I didn’t know…

Hero Narratives and Plan Continuation Bias and Turning Back Before It’s Too Late

Usually I take a bit more time over a blog post than this, but I’m rushing this one out because it’s highly relevant today in a way it might not be by tomorrow. (As I’m writing this it’s Christmas Eve, 2020.)

A while ago I listened to this excellent podcast by Tim Harford about plan continuation bias. It’s a particularly dangerous bias that sometimes costs lives. In short: people plan to do something, and are so fixed on sticking to their plan that they risk everything, including in extreme cases the lives of themselves and others, to achieve it. …

I spoke at #SHINE19 this week about the importance of building relationships across teams. Here’s a slide I used, with a little commentary:

The choice of how you communicate matters. The more communications you can have toward the top-right corner of the chart, the faster your teams will build useful collaborative relationships.

Here’s why:

From left to right we have the communication media, in ascending order of usefulness for relationship building. The more informal the medium, the more opportunity for chit-chat and getting to know each other. …

The more users ask for a thing, the higher we should prioritise it, right? Well, maybe…

Some time ago, in a discussion about managing mature products, I drew a diagram on my notebook. We were talking about how easily we can get bogged down delivering what’s expected, and not spend enough time on fresh ideas that might invigorate our product.

Size vs. Inventiveness

I wrote this post partly to solidify my thoughts on the topic so it would be great if you can let me know what you think. Could this be useful in being more deliberate about what blend of obvious vs. radical improvements we need? Is it just another version of something that already exists? …

All feedback is good feedback. And if you ask for feedback, there are only two appropriate responses to whatever you get in return:

1: “Thank you for your feedback.”

Someone has taken the time to tell you what they think, so they deserve a polite acknowledgement. If you disagree with the feedback, that’s fine, but keep that to yourself. In the world of feedback, perception is reality. If my colleague tells me that he finds me intimidating, now is not the time to tell him to toughen up, or that I’m really a pussycat. Whether I actually am intimidating is neither here nor there for the moment. This is information that someone thinks I am intimidating, and information is something I can use, or not. (Maybe I want to…

I thought I read this quote somewhere years ago, but searching today I can’t find anything similar. Maybe I misremembered something from this article by Sali Hughes.

I have a confession: My name is Julia and I am a massive hypocrite. Specifically, I’m a product manager who prides myself in ruthless prioritisation, and I can’t prioritise my personal to-do list. Or rather, I can, but I get so far down into the weeds with busywork and interruptions and stuff that I rarely take a step back and apply the same discipline to my life outside of work that I’d apply to a product backlog. Talking to other product managers it sounds like I’m not alone.

Maybe it’s not all of us. There might be a few super-human…

Recently I was in a team futurespective (like an Agile retrospective but focused on our next piece of work). We were each asked to write on a post-it note an answer to this question:

What is one thing the team should do to give ourselves the best chance of success?

My contribution was: be deliberate

I meant this: try not to do things out of habit, inertia or because they’re the default action. Come up for air. Ask yourself “is this the best use of my time right now?”, “is this still valuable?”, …

Why does it seem like our organisations are setting us up to fail? And how can we help them stop?

The iron triangle

If you’ve worked as a project manager, or with project managers, you might have heard of the Iron Triangle — the triple constraint that means any change to cost, scope or schedule of a project requires a change to at least one of the other two, or a loss of quality.

This is basic stuff, and well-known; most project managers wouldn’t dream of trying to fix all three constraints without providing significant slack. (Padding the estimated schedule is the most common way to build flexibility back in, even if the timeline still looks fixed to anyone outside the project.) But…

You want to create change, and you’ve spent time crafting your material. Before you step in front of an audience, here are some tricks to help you overcome nerves and give your story the delivery it deserves.

Photo credit: Ali Hanlon on Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/ali-pictures/14222309867/

This is the third and final companion post to my talk at the BCS on 24th May 2017.

We spoke in Part One of this series about creating change with your audience and finding a story to help achieve that, and in Part Two about how to make sure any slides or other visuals support your story effectively. Now, in the last part of this series, we’ll talk about delivery, focusing on getting out of our own way by making a few small changes to our physical behaviours when we present.

Public speaking anxiety spiral

Most of us have felt nervous at some point…

Cluttered, confusing or unnecessary visuals steal focus from your story and the change you want to achieve.

This is the second in a series of three companion posts to my talk at the BCS on 24th May 2017.

We spoke in Part One of this series about creating change with your audience and finding a story to help achieve that. Any slides or other visuals you use when presenting (and it’s usually slides) must serve one purpose: to support your story. You and your story are the presentation, not the slide deck.

Any visuals that are cluttered, confusing, difficult to read or just unnecessary are not only wasted, they’re also actively detracting from you, your story, and…

Julia Harrison

Product manager from a background in EUC, ITSM, Agile, DevOps. Talks a lot. Sometimes on stage. Views expressed are my own.

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