OT

When others put your thoughts into clear words.

You have to love how when some people speak, everyone stops and listens. A shareholder letter from Jeff Bezos is making the rounds and I love how each of us reads the letter and internalizes it differently. We all find ways to relate our own world to different bits of the shared wisdom. 

Myself, there were two ideas that have been spinning in the back of my head lately that were put together in a really great way by Jeff Bezos. 

When user testing isn't the whole story

Good inventors and designers deeply understand their customer. They spend tremendous energy developing that intuition. They study and understand many anecdotes rather than only the averages you’ll find on surveys. They live with the design.
...
A remarkable customer experience starts with heart, intuition, curiosity, play, guts, taste. You won’t find any of it in a survey.
— https://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/1018724/000119312517120198/d373368dex991.htm

This is one that I've been working so hard to process. We're all focused on measuring and data and so we work hard to include user testing in the design process. It's 100% correct to measure and work to understand what actually happens out there in the real world.

Everything can't be a simple a/b test. I have seen and fought getting too carried away with doing what the testing says. It's so easy to let go of responsibility and respond "the user testing says ...". I think that user testing is great when you're looking for small tweaks and changes or general feedback on if something appears useful and interesting. If I want to improve the click through rate, rearranging the content, the design of call to action buttons, or even the information architecture all might help. NONE of these though are breakthrough ideas that provide something new and excited for users. They're not truly things that are part of the identity of a product.

I often find that in Juju users will nearly always provide feedback that's the shortest path from their task to having it work the way they want. It makes sense from where they're sitting. A user might request some fast path to making a quick change after a deployment in a one off way. Juju is built on a consistent model. Anything that's done that's not part of that model, the state, is lost for future decisions and understanding. We often find we need to take the user feedback and get into what they want to do in this "one off" and see where we have an opportunity to improve the model so that the user is able to leverage Juju but the model is still consistently the focus on the product. I feel like the key word I want to use here is intent. You can filter ideas, test results, and then put some true intent behind them to build something of value. 

Getting others to agree by allowing them to disagree

...use the phrase “disagree and commit.” This phrase will save a lot of time. If you have conviction on a particular direction even though there’s no consensus, it’s helpful to say, “Look, I know we disagree on this but will you gamble with me on it? Disagree and commit?” By the time you’re at this point, no one can know the answer for sure, and you’ll probably get a quick yes.
— https://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/1018724/000119312517120198/d373368dex991.htm

This is a lesson I first learned myself in code reviews. I'd see some code and completely hate it. However, if I stood back, I'd realize what I hated was that it's not "how I would have done it". I would have to watch myself and not be negative just because someone else thought differently.

I like how Bezos's letter makes disagreement a reason to get together. "but will you gamble with me?" is a really great way of putting that. I find that normally this is a lesson for myself. To make myself willing to gamble on someone else's work or ideas. I obviously am already sold when it's my work. 

Sometimes, in order to get folks on board, they just need permission to not be held accountable if it fails. In code review, your goal isn't to be perfect all the time. In decision making, some will be good and some will not work out. However, you need permission to let the team move forward on something and learn from the outcome. None of us will be right all the time. 

What do you find interesting or personally meaningful in the letter? Do any of the ideas really speak to something you've been noodling on in the back of your mind. Let me know. @mitechie

Been a good summer, fitness, woodworking, and new job coming soon...

I'm very late on a bunch of weekly status reports, but I've got good reason I promise. This summer has been a bit of a "summer of change" for me. Perhaps more renovation than change.

First, I decided I was sick of looking and feeling like crap and got into a weight loss program. I've finished that program today with some really good results. I'm down 37lbs, with another 19 to go until I hit my goal. Here's hoping I can get there before the year is out. This has really helped me feel a ton better. I did a lot of biking this summer, including a 48mile monster that beat me up, but man was that fun.

Next up, I finally managed to clean the garage out. That means the woodworking tools are open for business. I've only started working on putting some finish on some new oak closet doors, but that's a huge move forward. I've not done any woodworking since the boy was born and now that the space is cleared out I'm looking forward to getting back to making some shavings.

Finally, the big news. I've put in my two weeks notice with Morpace and have accepted an offer to work for the Launchpad team with Canonical.

I can't express how excited I am to get this chance to work with a team of smart people that are really working hard to build something awesome. In many ways this is the culmination of a goal I set years ago to get paid to work on open source software, and not only that, but to get paid to work with Python as well.

Morpace was really good to me and I feel sad to leave them. They gave me my first chance to prove that I could be a productive Python developer. I've grown though and the opportunity to work with all of the great people at Canonical is just too much to pass up. I can't wait to jump in and see what I can help with.

It's been a good summer. I can only hope that each year continues to be as fulfilling.