Designing My Life | Part V: Alternative Life Plans Odyssey

The purpose of the fifth activity in Designing Your Life is to go on a journey to create three alternative life plans so you can evaluate how you might address the issues in your current life situation. Each plan contains four key elements: Title Five-year Roadmap Questions this surfaces An affinity dashboard to measure: Resoures required (time, skill, money, contacts) Desireability (how much you like it) Confidence (how you feel about your ability to execute) Coherence (consistence with your Workview and Lifeview) An Aside on The Importance of Divergent Thinking The activity highlights the importance of not settling on your

Designing My Life | Part IV: Getting Unstuck via Mind Maps

The fourth activity in the process described in Designing Your Life by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans is called 'Getting Unstuck'. It depends on the activity logs I shared in my previous post and uses a technique called mind mapping. The purpose of the exercise is to gain insights and develop self-awareness about what engages you, gives you energy and cultivates flow. Mind Maps If you haven't tried mind mapping before, I highly recommend it. It's a simple technique that is great for visual thinkers like myself. The idea is to think visually by connecting related ideas in a map

Designing My Life | Part III: Wayfinding via Activity Logs

I've been logging my activities for the past two weeks as a part of a life design process described in Designing Your Life by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans, two Stanford professors who teach design thinking. This particular exercise is intended to help life designers understand what activities engage them and provide them with energy. The aim is to gain self-awareness about the activities, environments, interactions, objects and people that give us life. We can then reduce the life-draining activities and increase the life-giving activities, making our experience more enjoyable and worthwhile. It seems pretty simple, but it's a powerful

Designing My Life | Part II b: Building a Lifeview Compass

Following my post on creating a Workview Compass, in the process of Designing Your Life, I've outlined below my Lifeview for the purpose of reflection and collaboration. The purpose of creating a Workview and Lifeview Compass is to help people calibrate their life design efforts towards what they find meaningful and important. Design thinking values 'thinking visually', which basically means getting your thoughts out of your head and onto something tangible (often through making something). That way you can discuss your thoughts with other people and improve through iteration. Designing a successful product isn't all that different from designing a

Designing My Life | Part II a: Building a Workview Compass

The second section of Designing Your Life is directed towards creating a compass in work and in life so that people can calibrate their efforts towards what they find meaningful and important. The focus of this post is on my process of creating a Workview Compass. Lifeview will follow... Wisdom from the authors The authors provide some great questions to help people answer the question of why and so I've provided my answers here as an exercise in reflection and collaboration. Before we dive in, I just want to prime my responses with an excerpt from the book: We realize

Designing My Life | Part I: Developing a Dashboard

On Monday I embarked on a journey to design my life and share the journey on my blog. You can read the preface here if you like. The first part of life design is to develop a dashboard that helps you answer the questions: Where am I in my life right now? How are things going? The Activity It's a simple yet powerful exercise. The authors of Designing Your Life create four categories and ask participants to self-assess the quality of their life in each: Health Work Love Play These are great categories, but as a designer I could also

Designing My Life: A Preface

I have a problem. It never seems to go away. The question of 'What do you want to do with your life?' never seems to fully resolve. All throughout my life, I've persistently tried to find trustworthy answers to the following questions: Who am I? Why am I here? What's wrong with the world and how can I help fix it? Historically, I've chiseled away at these answers through various activities: From 2009-2014 I wrote a thousand words a day every day (inspired by Ray Bradbury's approach described in Zen and The Art of Writing). In 2014, I hired

My First 60 Days As a Product Manager at OpenGov

This post outlines what I've learned and experienced as a consultant product manager for OpenGov—a high-growth tech startup in Silicon Valley. When Peak Democracy merged with OpenGov in October, I found myself transitioning into a new role as Product Owner and Manager for Open Town Hall—Peak Democracy's flagship product. The mission of Open Town Hall is to build public trust in government for the good of society. We do this by building tools for local governments to receive input from their residents on community issues. By creating a constant stream of structured communication between people and their

What Does a Product Manager Do at a Silicon Valley Tech Startup?

In Silicon Valley and other tech hubs, Product Management ("PM") is referred to the leadership role whose responsibility it is to manage the intersection of business, technology and design towards the fulfillment of specific objectives. Image Credit: Tech In Asia — What we learnt about Product Management in Silicon Valley I have been really fortunate in my short career to have gotten just enough experience in each of these domains to enable me to dutifully fulfill this role at OpenGov for a product called Open Town Hall. I worked as a Ruby on Rails developer for a few months as I

My Journey at Peak Democracy: From Design Leadership to Product Management

The purpose of this post is to outline my journey at Peak Democracy, to share what I’ve learned and express my enthusiasm at the next stage of my career as I take on a new role as Product Manager & Lead Designer at Peak Democracy (now a part of OpenGov). Backstory In March, I began consulting for Peak Democracy—a company on a mission to build public trust in government. Their business centers on a web-based product called Open Town Hall, which is widely considered to be North America’s leading online civic engagement platform. Open Town Hall was