#user-work vs. #tech-work == P vs. PC

One of the writing sessions I had planned for the past week was an imagination exercise, specifically, to look at my side project from the 2 different perspectives:

  1. Tell a good friend about the project and the plan.
  2. Listen to a good friend telling you about a project of their own, and give them advice.

What triggered this session was a conversation with a friend about some challenges at their company. While thinking about that conversation post-factum, I realized that I was really fired up to think about their issue and so eager to give them advice that it got me thinking: Can I be my own advisor for the side project? I liked this idea, so I planned a writing session.

Yesterday I did a session on the first item, and today on the second item. One thing that came out of the second item was that I’d advise them to get some mechanism in place that would help them balance the purely technical work with the user-feature work.

The purely technical work is things like refactoring, improving the build system, updating libraries, etc. — things that the user of the system would not necessarily see as they use the system. The user-feature work is adding some UI for the user, sending them a transactional email, etc.

This reminded me of a concept from Covey’s 7 habits book: P/PC Balance:

To maintain the P/PC Balance, the balance between the golden egg (production) and the health and welfare of the goose (production capability) is often a difficult judgment call. But I suggest it is the very essence of effectiveness.

In a way, the user-feature work is the P—the production—the end product of one’s efforts, and the purely-technical work is PC—the production capability—the effort that gives us the ability to continue producing.

This also aligns in a way with how we currently do sprint planning at Mixbook: at our request, our PO allows some time for work that is not directly related to the product work, but it supports our long-term ability to deliver.

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I often find myself looking at new concepts from the perspective of Covey’s teachings, and I think it’s because they speak to me, and I have probably internalized them in some measure.