A friend of mine came over the other night for a pep talk. He works at a San Francisco logistics startup. And he said that things are going well and not so well at the same time. Weird, right?
I was bitten by the coding bug in my youth. When I was eight years old my father brought home an IBM XT. I was immediately mesmerized and spent my afternoons copying BASIC type-in programs from Compute! magazine.
Recognize this scenario? You join the leadership team at the annual offsite to work on next year’s strategy. The location is somewhere expensive and beautiful. Unfortunately, you hardly ever leave the conference room.
I love my job. I love helping product managers get the most out of Aha! — and sharing these weekly updates with you is an important part of that work. I also have more on my to-do list than there are hours in the day. Sound familiar?
I love micromanagers. Now, you are probably thinking, “Are you for real?” It is true. Micromanagers are heroes in my world. It’s ok if you consider me crazy. I know what you have been told. But they deserve a lot more love than they currently get.
Thousands of product managers use Google Drive and Dropbox to share mockups and other key product planning information with their teams. And why wouldn’t they? You can securely store your files including documents, photos, and videos in one place, and make them available to anyone. We like that.
Do you ever dread sending off an important report to your boss? I once reported to a VP who replied to emails with vague and unhelpful feedback about three days after I asked for it. Work typically “looked ok.” There was precious little direct feedback or concrete direction — positive or negative.
How many times do people “ping” you at work each day? For product managers, the answer is probably something like: “Oh, I’ve stopped counting.” Feedback comes in from so many different channels — internally and externally — that those pings can start to feel like a series of jabs.
Every product manager needs a good hat rack. Some days you are wearing your strategy hat while working on your high-level goals and initiatives. Other days you are wearing your features hat while defining upcoming releases and requirements. But regardless of which hat you are wearing on any given day, it is important to be able to see and report on how the team’s daily work serves the higher-level purpose of the business.
In college I was recruited to be one of the founding members of the St. Edward’s University women’s golf team. It was our job to help build a successful program and recruit even more talented players. Each year we got a little better. Today the program continues to thrive — 2016 was the 10th straight year that the team made it to regionals.
Take a moment and think about your colleagues. Which ones are the naysayers? You know — the people who you think of as “The Mallet” for their ability to smash promising ideas like a game of Whac-A-Mole.
I wanted to design buildings. I love the breadth of skill that architecture requires — a mix of practical and strategic, creative and scientific, and overall leadership and business acumen.
I finally decided to recycle the last box of business cards that I had collected from various connections over the years. There was no good reason to hang onto them anymore — most of the people had moved on and were working somewhere else anyway. That box of business cards had become nothing more than a paperweight of fleeting memories.
There is one thing that every product manager should fear. Looking back at the end of a busy year and struggling to answer the question: Did we build what matters? And of course, the question that should have proceeded it: How are we progressing against our goals?