Things I shuffled along

Most of the week was spent continuing our discovery into new payment types and channels, which will help inform GOV.UK Pay’s strategy over the next couple of years. Currently the platform only offers one-off card payments and two channels, digital and telephone, but we know that services need more.

We started the week planning for the user interviews, writing the discussion guide and starting a knowledge kanban, collating everything we already know about the opportunities we’ve exploring.

From a product perspective, this mostly meant that I was looking at all contact we’ve had from service teams asking for particular solutions, quantifying the demand and checking on whether teams’ problems were common enough to warrant a centrally-built GaaP solution.

We also started mapping our assumptions about these opportunities, calling out our gut feels or poorly evidenced ideas for the value, viability and feasibility of this opportunities. For example, my biggest assumption is that services don’t need Direct Debit in the long term, they need a way for users to pay them on a recurring basis and we can enable bank-to-bank payments via other methods. We mapped those on a grid with two axes: how much evidence we have for this assumption, and how important it is to get it right. Anything trivial can be explored through prototyping or engagement rather than direct interviews with users.

Things I started

I started a cross-government buddying scheme for product managers. It’s a really simple thing I’ve been running at GDS for a couple of years, mainly involves me collecting some contact details and pairing people up. Around 24 people have signed up so far, which is nice, giving people the chance to chat to product managers outside their organisation bubble. Check out cross-gov Slack if you’re interested.

Some puzzles

Related to the above point and having thought more about the product management community over the last couple of weeks, I’m wondering whether anyone is looking at communities through the lens of training, coaching and skills development. It sounds like a couple of product leaders are doing well on that front, but there’s a few other places in dire need of good foundations in product management – not only for their newly appointed PMs but also the wider organisation.

Other things

If you’ve been following my weeknotes recently, you’ll know that I interviewed for a senior product manager position at GDS. The good news is that I got offered the position! I’m really appreciative of that vote of confidence in my skills, that I’m operating at a senior level. However, I decided to turn it down. There’s a few reasons for this, but ultimately it comes down to team dynamics and how much of myself I’ve invested in my role. Leaving the team in the next 6 weeks, while we’re building momentum and adding more certainty to our 2-year roadmap, would be too disruptive as we’ve experienced high staff turnover in the last 12 months. So I’m staying put.

Unfortunately it sounds like there won’t be any other senior positions coming up in Government as a Platform, the programme we’re in, so I’ll continue interviewing elsewhere for senior roles and see what happens. If I were to leave, it would be less disruptive to do so after the alpha stage.