Creative Freedom & Product Ownership

Reading time ~ 2 minutes

After nearly 2 years of blogging internally for my employer and building up an internal online community readership of nearly a thousand subscribers, I’ve been looking forward to getting my voice to the outside world. I have a lot to say, opinions on most things in the software industry and enjoy sharing.

Having made the personal commitment and investment to do so, I find that 2 days later the words are all there but can’t find form. Where’s all the inspiration that caused me to do this gone?

I know my intended audience, I know the sort of things I usually write about are interesting, I have complete creative control and no real constraints on what I can and can’t say for the first time in years! What happened?

Complete creative control with no constraints?… Oh!…

Complete creative control makes life harder, not easier!

When you move to an environment where you are both delivery team and product owner, how do you go about putting some of the safety rails back up to get back on track and delivering successfully?

Whilst over in the US last week I saw a biography on “Pink” –  I’ve just learned a great lesson from her experiences.

Creative control for Pink’s first album was governed by her record company and whilst very successful, she sought a greater say in her future output.

For her second album, Pink contacted an artist she greatly admired and against the wishes of her record company, developed an album of new material on her own terms. In developing the album she had a clear goal and vision; pair up with a personal heroine, take control and prove she could deliver.  Pink broke the rules and had something to fight for.

On hearing the output, record bosses conceded she’s achieved something special and the album was a massive global success. Following its success her songwriting partner saw a huge surge in demand for her skills and Pink was given complete creative freedom and trust for her next album. – She’d massively over-achieved her goal.

Album#3 didn’t go so well. Her partner was no longer available, complete control was hers but there was no focus. Development was a strained, long process and whilst it did eventually ship, sales performance was generally poor.

Does this sound familiar?

Needless to say Pink’s output did recover.  Now I’ve found my voice I need to re-check both my original vision and my constraints.

After mentioning that I was about to write this post, a good friend and colleague sent me a link to this old business week article from the VP of Google’s search products. It frames the whole constraint thing better than I can – well worth a read.


Reading time ~ 2 minutes

March 2011

Ahoy Me Hearties!

Having mortgaged my soul to Davey Jones’ BBC Model B long before the dot com boom & bust, the Millennium Bug, the introduction of the Euro and the demise of Altavista; 2011 is the 15th year of my commercial softwarefaring exploits and roughly the 25th year since my voyaging began in Basic with Usborne books, the “Welcome Tape” and early forays into the online ocean via Prestel.

Herewith begins my testimony of daring exploits, shores traveled, cultures & rituals observed and occasional ramblings associated with bad bread.

Before venturing further it is important to clarify that these musings represent a manifestation of my inner monologue and must not be associated with those of any of my current or past employers.

With this short introduction, I bid you good day.


Update, May 2015

I’ve been writing on here for over 4 years now. That’s 19 years I’ve been in the software business and nearly 30 since I started coding! I thought I’d consolidate a few things onto this post for the curious…

Finally, if you’re here because of the treasure map. I appreciate your curiosity! The original came from Amazon as far as I know (or possibly a party shop). I still have it sitting around somewhere in the study. One day I’ll have it framed as a keepsake.