Deepen Your Expertise and Get More Innovative: Five Links Worth Your Time

by nils  - November 11, 2013

This week and last have been hard on the old cognitive capacity, and the topics I’m working on for the blog need a lot more cognitive work than I’ve had available.

Or is it just that I’ve spent too much time reading really interesting articles on the Internet? Here are some good ones I’ve run across in the last week that I wanted to share, in lieu of a real post. Each of these posts is worth the time spent to read (or watch) it.

  • First, Bruce McCarthy (@d8a_driven) turned me on to Jason Brett’s excellent “60-second Business Case heuristic for creating a “strategic score” for a set of features. I described a similar scoring method in How To Prioritize. Jason and Bruce discuss it in this post on Bruce’s blog
  • @SeriousPony mentioned this great seminal Alan Kay talk as a first step for understanding how to do user experience and user interface better. I loved the talk – it’s full of throwaway lines that become touchstone aphorisms for us latter-day practitioners, such as “Find a context that will do most of your thinking for you,” (about 25 minutes in).
  • One of my recent hobby horses, as you know if you’ve read the blog, is that product management – creating new products – is not a straightforward application of best practices or techniques. Coming up with new products and new features is complex, full of emergent knowledge. Therefore, I was pleased to see this article on Insight-Driven Innovation in the MIT Tech Review blog. Simply having and understanding or analyzing a lot of data does not get you disruptive innovation. You need to have a moment – or multiple moments – of insight that are patently NOT data-driven. “Disruptive innovations need divergent thinking combined with instinct and gut.”
  • From Sarah Davanzo, “culture cartographer,” comes “The Trend of E-shaped People,”  extending the concept of T-shaped people – who have a combination of broad but relatively shallow knowledge across a range of topics (“Experience”), and deep knowledge on one or more particular topics (“Expertise”) – to include two more items – a tendency to “Explore” and an ability to “Execute.” The result is not only four “E’s”, but you can also use an “E-shaped” graphic to illustrate it. 
  • Finally, my current favorite moment each week is when I receive @katemats’ and @katestull’s Technology Leadership News (TLN) in my Inbox. Every week there’s at least one article that I take immediate action on. One of my favorites was “Nine Creativity-Sparking Tips” where I learned “your obvious is your art.” It kind of changed my life to get that understanding. (And I suspect the E-shaped people article was already mentioned in TLN at some point.) I’ve even configured RescueTime so that reading TLN counts as Highly Productive time, since I learn something I put into practice almost every week..


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Your host and author, Nils Davis, is a long-time product manager, consultant, trainer, and coach. He is the author of The Secret Product Manager Handbook, many blog posts, a series of video trainings on product management, and the occasional grilled pizza.

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