Steve Messer

The Very Important Visitors

Weeknotes S05E06

Headlines only for last week because it’s a busy time and things are moving fast.

Five Things That Happened

We did more things than this

One

We had a visit from a couple of very important people under the new leadership of the current government. I’m not sure I’m allowed to name them (I’ll check, in the spirit of being open) but I was glad to have attended a public speaking bootcamp a few weeks ago. The skills I learned worked well.

_Edit: No, I’m not. Not now, anyway.

Two

I met with Mark Dalgarno to talk about how product teams can manage upwards, helping the more senior layers of management devise a strategy for achieving an organisation’s outcomes. He’s a damn clever bloke and good company to boot.

Later in the week I chatted with Alice Noakes about the same subject and it sounds like she’s basically been an internal management consultant at the Care Quality Commission. A tough brief but she’s approached it with tenacity. She’s a bloody good product manager though, so you’d expect that.

If anyone else would like to talk about managing upwards, drop me a line. I suspect there’s more stories out there. (I’m lucky that I don’t need to manage upwards, but it’s worthwhile learning how just in case.)

Three

I formed a new team for Brexit-y business – and unfortunately had to put Permissions to bed for a bit – and spent three days blasting through the Nebula of Unknown to arrive at a minimum viable product (MVP). I’m grateful for having a strong technical lead in Kevin and I’ve been lucky enough to work alongside Anna, who’s a bloody great service designer and product manager.

Figuring out all the possibilities and technical complications to arrive at what’s most readily valuable, usable, feasible and viable is draining.

Four

Alex asked me if his approach to product-managing something was sound. It was, of course. A man of his capabilities needn’t ask a kid like me!

Five

Oh yeah, and some of the statistics community got annoyed by some changes that we made to the Research & Statistics finder. It’s something I inherited from another product manager and so I trusted that they’d covered all the bases, but it turned out they hadn’t. Regardless, we’ve had a feedback survey running on the new finder since 4 June – it’s just no one got in touch to say there were features missing. Ffuuuuuuuu—

Anyway, it’s all sorted now. We also had to switch the A/B test to 100:0 for Elasticsearch 5 vs Elasticseach 6. That’s because the new content similarity algorithm, BM25, was throwing up some weird results and publishers were getting antsy, what with Brexit on the way. It was fine to switch back though, we’ve collected a week’s worth of clicks performance data for analysis.

The team are working on optimising the queries relative to BM25 now. Michael’s had a clever idea. I miss the team.

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