Weeknote: Kick off, Structured information and Manuals for humans

tobiogunsina Product management, weeknotes Leave a Comment

First weeknote of 2021 so Happy New Year! 

I had a long restful break over Christmas but I’ve been back at work since the 4th of January. Here are the highlights of the last 2 weeks and some of the things I’ve been thinking about

4 things that happened 

One – Kick off for the quarter

To kickstart the year and quarter, we planned a series of kick-off events. One of them was a product kick off session to look back over the work we’ve done in the last 6 months and the work we plan to do this quarter. I put together a summary of the scale and the impact of the work we’ve done so far.  It was inspiring for the team to see all of it pulled together and it was suggested that we share it with the whole programme so I shared it again at the GOV.UK show and tell

To frame it, the UK has about 66 million people, it is estimated that about 1 in 5 (20%) have some form of impairment. Also, at least 5 million people visit GOV.UK daily and there are about half a million pages, hundreds of organisations and almost 2000 publishers. Our work improved so many aspects of GOV.UK and provided support and guidance for departments and publishers.

We also talked about our plan for this quarter, which is basically making progress on our roadmap and goal to keep GOV.UK accessible in a sustainable way. 

Two – Manual for me

Another thing we did to kick off the quarter was to write our manual for me. When the team started in July 2020, we had a hard deadline and went straight into action mode. Since then, a few more people have joined so we wanted to do some normal team forming/bonding activities. 

A ‘Manual for me’ is information about me that’s useful for my team to know so we can work better together. It includes information like conditions I like to work in, the ways I like to receive feedback, the times/hours I like to work, the best ways to communicate with me, things I struggle with, things I love, things I need and other things to know about me. Each team member wrote one. 

Our delivery manager organised a quiz as a way to make sure we read everyone’s manual for me. I really enjoyed reading each one and we can already see patterns that will help us work even better together. I won the quiz and a grand prize of salted caramel Lindt chocolate. Yay!

Three – Fixing Accordions

One of the known accessibility issues we’ve not yet fixed is related to the different accordions on GOV.UK – They behave like buttons but look like links which can make it difficult for assistive technology to find information or to activate a link/button. Also, the 3 different implementations of accordions on GOV.UK are inconsistent.

One of the accordion components we have is from the GOV.UK design systems, they were also reviewing it for similar reasons but taking a very different approach to the new design while we were redesigning all our accordions to look more like the step by steps accordion

I arranged a conversation to make sure that our plans for fixing it were aligned, we talked about how the new design we have fixes all the accessibility issues, especially as step by steps has been extensively tested. We’ve now agreed for our team to redesign it and contribute back to the GOV.UK design systems

Four – Conversations about structured information 

Our little working group of that has been thinking about the next steps for GOV.UK’s content strategy continued working on exploring Structured information – documenting what we mean by it so there’s shared understanding, reviewing GOV.UK’s current external commitments (spending reviews/blog posts); investigating GOV.UK’s peers and commercial industry approaches; chatting with stakeholders to identify current challenges, future challenges and aspirations related to this area 

I spent some time this week chatting with people working on areas of GOV.UK that may have current challenges that structured information might help with, for example, machinery of Government changes, GOV.UK accounts or how content is used in other channels apart from GOV.UK pages, for instance, external search like google. 

Other people in the group are also talking to people so we can pull together an accurate view of where we are now on structured information so that we can think practically about what a future state might look like and how to get there, with a particular focus how publishing fits in. 

What I’ve been thinking about?

I’ve been thinking a lot about my plans for the year, as you do in January. I even created a personal roadmap with outcomes and habits centered around 3 main goals

  • Become a better strategic PM and product leader so that I can gain evidence to advance to a lead PM role
  • Build personal brand as product manager via content (website, medium, twitter and speaking) and teaching so that I can support other PMs, expand my network and increase the range of opportunities available to me
  • Improve leadership, people management and coaching skills so that I can be more confident in my ability to support others and transition into leadership roles

I’ve been thinking and reading a lot about strategy – the concept of strategy, the process with which we define or co-create it and how we implement it. It’s such a simple thing at its core because it’s about knowing where you are now, where you want to get to,  how to get there and how you’ll know that you have…but it can also be such a hard thing to do

A lot of my work over the next few months have a strategy element to them so I’m really interested in the processes for co-creating them right now and reading about how companies do them. 

What I wish I could have changed?

I wish I could have gotten rid of the general overwhelming feeling I had last week. I think it was a mix of a) feeling that I made huge plans for the year but haven’t kick-started anything, which is definitely too much pressure to put myself under and b) a little worry about a piece of work that’s a little out of my control that we’ve not been able to move along. 

After some thought, in both cases, I think I’m definitely putting myself under too much pressure and need to take one step at a time. 

What I’m looking forward to next week

In my last weeknote, I talked about our research interviews to understand why some parts of GOV.UK were not accessible enough. We got a user researcher to help and we’ll be doing some group analysis next week, after that, we’ll be able to identify strategies that will help GOV.UK remain  accessible 

On a personal note

I studied for and passed my Life in the UK test. I now know a lot of UK history. Ask me anything! Haha. 

I met with my PM Circle and we talked a lot about reducing the overwhelming feeling that comes with setting goals by focusing on just a short period of time, thinking honestly about capacity and focusing on habits where possible. 

I also started a digital declutter as encouraged by Cal Newport in his book Digital Minimalism, looking forward to sharing how that went when it’s over.