If you confuse platforms with products, you’re making a big error


The word ‘platform’ is simultaneously used to describe many things, causing confusion on a grand scale in businesses and technology teams.

Portfolios, Programmes, Products, Projects and Problems — the 5Ps — are all about how you chunk up work to deliver value. From the largest unit to the smallest, they are simply ways of managing work to create value and are discussed in more detail here.

Platforms are about how you run your business.

This is a difficult thing to grasp and to help illustrate what I mean, I’m…

It’s critical to understand how Portfolios, Programmes, Projects, Products and Problems — the 5Ps — fit together and how to navigate them in your career. Start here.

A lego man being photographed


It’s the new gold rush — product management — but products are not new.

The Gutenburg Bible, the first genuine product, was released in 1455. It wasn’t the first printed book — the Chinese managed this in the 9th Century — but it was the first book planned as a product and evolved based on user feedback and advancements in technology. Since then, products have been around, and the art and science of product management have evolved.

I have on my bookshelf my first book on Product Management, from 2002. Software products still came in boxes then, but it became…


How an old management concept is just as relevant today as it was in the 1970s.

A classic article with new implications — Who’s Got the Monkey?

I recently re-read one of Harvard Business Review’s most bought articles, Management Time: Who’s Got The Monkey? It appears in several of my HBR books — a great way to recycle content. I always enjoy reading it though, because even though it was written in 1974 and updated in 1999, it’s still as relevant today. The language is dated, and the problems have moved on, but the critical point is valid today — who’s got the monkey?

In this case, the ‘monkey’ is the…

Most methodologies prescribe them, yet they don’t work. What can we do about it?

Confused man with laptop

The theory of lessons learned is simple. By asking the right questions at the right time, we can harvest the knowledge gained from conducting a project, both what went well and what didn’t go so well. The idea is to repeat the positives and avoid the same mistakes in future. Over time, performed religiously, we do projects better and better, edging towards perfection.

Different organisations approach this in different ways. Sometimes, PMs complete a document explaining what went well or badly and how others should behave in future. Sometimes, sophisticated databases are used, linking lessons to processes, equipment or specific…

Work has changed forever. Even when we’re back in the office, we’ll need to lead teams that are sometimes in the office for the long term. Here are some of the lessons I’ve learned that you can apply too.

A lady on a teleconference

Hybrid working is the new norm.

As we start to return to the office, we want to embed what we’ve liked about homeworking but also re-establish the office as a collaboration hub.

However, we’ll need to manage remote teams forever as we all realise that the five-day office week is no longer sustainable for us, our employer or the environment.

As leaders, we need to ensure our…


If you are trying to develop your skills, here’s how you should be learning.

Lady reading book

Why is workplace learning important?

We live in a world that’s changing quickly. Some of the myriad trends that are changing the workplace include an increasing reliance on innovation and transaction platforms, the rise of automation to replace people, cloud technologies wiping out data centres, electric vehicles wiping out much of the car industry, new farming techniques replacing a lot of manual labour, new construction techniques changing how we build things and disintermediation removing the need for people to connect customers to suppliers etc. …


If you keep this simple matrix in mind, you will rarely make poor decisions about the opportunities in your career

A happy lady

We’re often faced with decision points in our careers, some large and some very small:

  • Paying to do some training yourself
  • Asking to go on a training course
  • Whether to take a new assignment
  • Volunteering your professional or private time to a project
  • How to spend that free hour that you have
  • Helping a colleague to finish some work on time

Whilst many of us don’t really consider the context of the opportunity, or sometimes even the amount of time you need to complete it, it’s important that you do. There are only 24 hours in a day and you


What we’ve learned from the experience to better prepare ourselves for old age.

An old man on his own

How to prepare for old age

It wasn’t supposed to be like this. Both my father-in-law and my uncle were supposed to die first. After all, the life expectancy of men is lower than for women. So, neither family planned for the eventuality that it might be the “wrong way round” and the ladies might die first.

Within one short year, we lost my mother-in-law and my aunt, one to cancer and the other to pneumonia. In the case of my mother-in-law, the cancer was the return of a previous case. The first…


Why you’re in danger of wasting your training budget without a curriculum in place

My niece spent some time with us recently, visiting from Hong Kong. If you’ve ever been to Hong Kong, or seen it on TV, you’ll know that it has more high rise buildings than just about any city on Earth. You’d therefore think that when I asked her to draw a house for me when she was playing with her crayons that she’d draw the 30 floor building she lives in. No. She drew a rectangular house with a roof, chimney, 4 windows and door. Oh…


Here is a list of great books and blogs on the process of learning that apply to corporate learning and development, all of which are well-researched and evidenced.

A man reading a book

Why learn about learning?

I have long had a passion for professional learning and have been involved in the professional education of project, programme and product professionals for some years.

My argument for learning about learning is that it takes a lot of our time, and will take up more in future. …

John Davidson

John is a program manager, with a passion for coaching. He writes about the 5Ps — Portfolios, Programs, Projects, Products and Problems, for home and work.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store