Strategic Thinking, Excalidraw, Current vs Future State
Edition #27 - Monday Ideas
Welcome to the Monday morning ideas newsletter ☕️.
Every Monday morning, receive 3 ideas on how to work more effectively in product and dev teams.
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1) Becoming more strategic
“You need to be more strategic.”
This is very common feedback for senior team members who get things done.
I’ve heard this throughout my career. And it can be confusing and frustrating. Especially when you ask for further details but nobody can give you the answer.
Shreyas Doshi (a well-known product leader) has created a great framework to show the difference between Project Thinking and Product Thinking.
In his tweet, he outlines there are three ways you can action this feedback:
🧠 Product Thinking - You need to think more about Product Thinking (see image below)
🤑 Opportunity Creation - You need to identify new opportunities to drive revenue.
📈 Product Strategy - You need to create a vision and strategy for a product.
OK, but how does this help get SEO projects executed?
As SEO professionals the higher we go up the organisational hierarchy the more strategic we need to become.
Product teams call it “Product Thinking”. But the idea is the same. We need to be able to connect our deliverables to business results.
Inspired by Shreyas Doshi's tweet, I’ve put together a list of three areas that can help you to “think strategically”.
The three areas you might need to improve your strategic thinking:
⚠️ Problems > Tasks - You need to identify problems to solve, rather than an SEO task list.
💰 Opportunity Creation - You need to identify new SEO opportunities to drive revenue.
📈 Connect to business strategy - You need to connect SEO work to wider business goals.
2) Prototyping with Excalidraw
Communicating with developers can be hard. But not if you have the right tools.
I’ve found one of the best ways to communicate with developers is by illustrating ideas using examples.
There are many different ways to get examples. But one of the best is to draw your ideas.
One free tool I use to do this is Excalidraw.
Excalidraw is a free online whiteboard tool that allows you to communicate ideas in your head to other stakeholders.
For example, using Excalidraw I’m able to communicate:
🖼️ Page template designs - Draw ideas I have around a new or current page template.
➡️ How a process will work - Draw flow charts to get across how a process works.
🧠 Frameworks and mental models - Draw a framework to explain a concept to a team.
📈 Sketch reports and dashboards - Draw ideas around a new SEO report or dashboard.
By sketching your ideas you and your developers share the same mental model around an idea. View the examples in the image below here.
Why does Excalidraw help get SEO projects executed?
Sketching out ideas and providing examples helps to:
🐌 Reduce misunderstanding which can slow down your SEO projects.
🏗️ Reduce complexity by helping the team understand the project scope.
🐛 Reduce defects by making sure the devs understand the requirements.
Also, a critical benefit of Excalidraw is that it has a hand-drawn look and feel.
This means that any design or drawing you show anyone never has that polished look to it. And you can take screenshots of any page, then add to it!
This stops any designers or product managers from getting shirty with you for doing any design work. I’ve noticed product and development teams enjoy Excalidraw so much. They start using it to communicate with you and other teams.
So, how can you use Excalidraw to communicate with developers?
The next time you need an element on a page template edited, changed or updated. Open up Excalidraw and try to draw what you expect to see on the page.
For example, I’ve used Excalidraw to help communicate:
🔗 Brief a developer on a recommended pagination link module design
🎨 Provide a UX designer with ideas on page template layout.
It doesn’t have to be perfect. In fact, the hand-drawn feel of the designs means that they never look quite done. But that’s fine. Because were not trying to replace the designer.
But we are trying to communicate our ideas. So the team shares the same mental model.
3) Current vs Future State
Execution of roadmaps (SEO and product) is about reframing your state of mind.
The best product and development teams are jumping between two types of work:
🚚 Delivery - The team break down planned projects into actionable dev tickets.
🔎 Discovery - The team confirm, plan and scope projects so they are ready to turn into tickets.
To switch between these types of work, teams need to be able to shift their mindsets between delivery work and discovery work.
These two states of mind are:
🌀 Current State (Delivery) - Keeping your team focused on the current work that breaks down projects into tickets that are then delivered by the development team.
🚀 Future State (Discovery) - Think about the future work that needs to be done to discover, scope and plan projects so they can be ready for delivery.
The mindsets are not equal.
In fact, I’ve found that when delivering a roadmap, a LARGE part of your focus is on scoping and planning upcoming projects.
How can use these two mindsets to get SEO projects executed?
Getting SEO roadmaps implemented is all about switching between these two mindsets.
For example, let’s say you’ve gotten a few SEO dev tickets into the Jira ticketing system based on your SEO action list. That’s great! But you need to have already started to focus on scoping and planning the next project in your roadmap.
Then once you’ve managed to scope and plan your project. You need to start to work with the team to break down your ideas into tickets that can be implemented.
It’s this switching between discovery and delivery mindsets that will help you deliver SEO roadmaps.
How did I do this week?
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