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How do you spend your time?

May 6, 2019 at 4:58pm

How do you spend your time?

May 6, 2019 at 4:58pm

One of the challenges to changing the culture of a product team is shifting the feedback loops and time spent that hold us back from the larger shifts we want to make. We may "know" that we should be more customer- or market-focused, but (in my experience) we're still mostly in feedback loops all about execution/building/output.

Here's an exercise I've done with our team, and I'd be curious about others' response:

Imagine a pie-chart (i know, data-nerds, i know...). How much of your current time is spent on:

  • Delivery (backlog, ticket writing, sprint management, dependency management, etc.)
  • Communication (answering questions, documentation, etc.)
  • Discovery and Planning (customer interviews, OKR or outcome creation, larger roadmapping)

Now think about what you think that pie chart should be. What percent do you ideally put in those buckets?

Finally, what do you think would need to be true in order for your current pie chart to match your ideal version?


May 9, 2019 at 11:51am

Looks like Spectrum had an outage and lost 2 days worth of data, so my answer is now gone :(

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May 10, 2019 at 2:07pm

Looks like Spectrum had an outage and lost 2 days worth of data, so my answer is now gone :(

It was a good answer too! And someone else had a great comment as well.

For those lurking -- here was the link Rian had posted to his mind mapping to clarify job tasks.

I think that's a really great idea -- do you block off entire days and dedicate them to Listen, Think, or Act? And what impact has it had on you and your team?

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May 11, 2019 at 12:55pm

@regand Not entire days, but definitely sections of the day. I try to spend a little time each morning planning what type of work I will focus on when. It's been really useful to do that in a paper notebook. I haven't heard any complaints from the team so I think it's working :)

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This just got me thinking, I'd love to see what other peoples' mind maps look like. I'm sure it's very different for all of us.

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May 12, 2019 at 9:21pm

I recently read this post from 2016 by Brandon Chu: https://blackboxofpm.com/applying-leverage-as-a-product-manager-ffad4a99db24 I like the idea that investing 20% of your time on foundational work brings 80% of the output. He describes that we spend 80% of our time to basically do project management. I'm working 4 days a week instead of 5. Fridays used to be the day for me to do strategic work. Now I've Fridays off. I feel the loss of that 20% every single day as I feel like I'm running after everything. I've recently started to block 1-1.5 hours in the morning, book a room, turn off skack and emails, and work only on those strategic topics I used to work on Fridays. Works okayish. I'll now try to decide on the topic to work on the day before.

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May 15, 2019 at 7:18pm
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@regand Not entire days, but definitely sections of the day. I try to spend a little time each morning planning what type of work I will focus on when. It's been really useful to do that in a paper notebook. I haven't heard any complaints from the team so I think it's working :)

Just digging myself out of this rabbit hole -- i took some of the similar exercises we've done on our team, like what responsibilities do you do weekly (to help communicate that our team is made up of different roles), and what's the difference between your role and other roles (like project management).

I ended up trying to summarize into a mind map, while still keeping some of the interesting "time/effort" parts. In this case, the number inside a percentage is how many people on our team do that work weekly.

I tried to borrow from your naming conventions where I could to see if there was a common structure. On reflection, this feels really overwhelming as an exercise -- i feel like this maybe clarifies some terminology but doesn't give me much prescription or next steps.

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May 21, 2019 at 1:37pm

@regand Yeah I get that, it can be quite overwhelming. The part that was useful to me is to start with the very specific tasks, and then start rolling them up into groups (like an affinity diagram exercise). And then, after all was said and done, extracting different types of tasks from that:

Image

Is that something that could be useful in your case?

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