Retrospective: Feb 2023
February ended up being a very short work month as I made a last minute decision to travel to Adelaide for the first 2 weeks of the month to help my brother with some house renovations he was undertaking. I thought I might be able to keep up with some work and my writing goals in the evenings while I was there, but days of hard manual labour are such an unfamiliar routine for me that I didn’t have any energy left to make good on that intention.
The majority of my time and focus for the remaining one and half weeks of the month was catching up on the consulting work that I had pushed back while in Adelaide.
So while it doesn’t make for a thrilling first month to look back and report on, overall I’m not unhappy with what I achieved given the time available. Next month, I hope to be able to report some more exciting progress on the product development front as well.
Monthly Scoring Rubric
I’m evaluating each goal using a 10 point scale based on execution velocity and risk level, rather than absolute success (which is what I will look at in the annual/mid-year review). If velocity is good and risk is low or well managed the score is high, if either the velocity is low, or risk is high then the score is low. E.g:
- 10 - perfect execution with low-risk, on track for significantly overachieving the goal.
- 7 - good execution with low or well managed risk, highly likely to achieve the goal.
- 5 - execution and risk are OK, should achieve the goal if all goes well.
- 3 - execution or risk have problems, goal is at risk.
- 0 - stalled, with no obvious path to recovery or success.
Consulting - 6/10
Goal: Execute a series of successful consulting engagements, building a reputation for myself and leaving happy customers willing to provide testimonials that support a pipeline of future opportunities.
- I have one active local engagement assisting a software team with migrating their application from a single to multi-region architecture.
- Two promising international engagements which were close to starting both cancelled based on newly issued company policies freezing their staffing/outsourcing budgets due to the current economic climate.
I’m happy with where this is at - I hit 90% of my target hours in February (taking into account 2 weeks off) and the feedback I’m receiving is positive. The main risk is the future pipeline of engagements, particularly if the cancellations indicate a new pattern. I’m not overly concerned yet, as all the opportunities to date have been from direct or referred contacts in my personal network, so there’s plenty of potential to more actively solicit work to create a healthier pipeline.
Product Development - 3/10
Goal: Grow my product development skill set by taking several ideas to MVP stage with customer feedback received, and launch at least one product which generates revenue and has growth potential.
Accelerating electrification - I continued to keep up with industry news and added some interesting reports to my reading queue, but made no significant progress towards identifying a specific product opportunity.
Farm management SaaS - no activity or progress at all.
co2mon.nz - I put significant thought and planning into how to approach a second iteration of this product. I started writing and completed 80% of a post to communicate the revised business plan, but it’s not ready for publication yet, and even if it was, the real work towards it would need to actually happen to score more points here.
I had high hopes to make at least some progress in all three areas in February, but it just didn’t happen due to lack of time. The good news is that since the low score here is purely execution driven, there’s no new risks or blockers that will hinder much better progress here in March.
Professional Network Development - 8/10
Goal: To build a professional relationship with at least 30 new people this year.
This is off to a strong start, I made 4 brand new connections and re-established contact with 9 other existing people I’d not talked to for a while. I’ve found the conversations energising and challenging and I’m looking forward to continuing to keep this up.
Writing - 2/10
Goal: To publish a high-quality piece of writing on this site at least once a week.
Well off track as already noted. I am enjoying the writing process and I continue to find it useful in developing my thoughts and forcing me to challenge my assumptions, but coupling the writing process with the thinking/planning that is a prerequisite to get those benefits definitely makes my output a lot slower than I was expecting.
The slower speed, combined with the obvious time constraints of this month are not a great doubly whammy to be starting with, but I think with some planning and preparation it should have been avoidable by having a backlog of pre-written content for use in weeks where I’m on holiday or otherwise busy.
It’s worth noting that among all the useful feedback I received, this writing target was often called out as overly ambitious, or likely to be counterproductive to producing quality writing. The feedback makes sense - for now I’m not planning to change the goal (I might at my 6-month review point), but I am going to be diligent about adhering to my quality standard, which in turn means I’m choosing to accept missing a weekly post here and there and taking a lower score on the goal overall.
I apologise if you’ve been eagerly waiting for writing that never arrived over February!
Community - 5/10
Goal: To support the growth of my local technical community by volunteering my experience and knowledge with others through activities such as mentoring, conference talks and similar.
I was an invited participant of the monthly KiwiSRE meet-up which was discussing SRE team models, and in particular I was able to speak to my experiences as described in an old CRE blog post on this topic.
I joined the program committee for SREcon23 APAC which is scheduled for mid-June in Singapore. I also submitted two talk proposals of my own (not sharing the details for now, since the review process is intended to be blind) which I’m hopeful might make the grade with my fellow PC members!
As always, I’d love to hear from you if you have thoughts or feedback triggered by anything I’ve written above. In particular, it would be useful to know whether you find this type of report interesting to read and/or what you’d like to see added/removed or changed.