Busy is not always better. I have written before about the difference between busy work and meaningful work. Our time is finite, so it is important to be purposeful about where we put our effort. This is especially true if you are a product manager striving to provide real value to customers. But what if, despite your best efforts and plenty of busy days, you are not delivering new features on time?Read more…
Could you imagine going to medical school in your late 30s with four young children? It is hard for me to fathom. But that is exactly what my grandfather did. Already a professor of chemical engineering at Georgia Tech, he decided to become an ear, nose, and throat physician. This was not a whim — he saw a real need in our small town. So he founded the area’s first otorhinolaryngology clinic. This is just one of the many reasons he is a major role model to me.
We recently added the ability to track the percent of work completed. This is a great way to visualize progress. But what about when your product plans move into development? Most engineering teams capture percent complete in their tool of choice. We have great news — you can now remain instantly informed on that work too.Read more…
I still cannot understand why companies do not want people working remotely. It has served us incredibly well at Aha! — but I also believe it is important to consider differing points of view. So I recently asked folks on LinkedIn for the reasons employers had rejected remote work. One particular response floored me. “This job is too important to be remote.” Wow. This perfectly encapsulates every misguided notion that exists about the nature of distributed teams.
Keeping everyone in sync. This is a big part of the job for product and marketing managers. And it can be challenging — especially when some teams in your organization use different tools. This is why Aha! integrates with more than 30 applications, so you can give other teams greater visibility into your product plans.
Do you like tennis? If you like watching it live, you know that it is best to sit behind one of the players. Because if you are at mid-court, you may get dizzy snapping your head back and forth to follow the ball. And if you are a product manager caught watching angry volleys between a CEO and CTO, you also know the whiplash feeling.
“Vision.” What does this word mean to you? I define it as knowing what you want to accomplish and where you want to go. In business, it can be difficult to determine what your vision is and then commit to it. Of course, this is a lot easier if you are the CEO of a company. Everyone looks to you to set the strategy and wants to know how they can help make the company a success.
Say yes to what scares you. I realized a few years ago that if I wanted to grow, I would need to pursue experiences that might make me uncomfortable. For example, I always wanted to learn to scuba dive, but I was terrified of all the things that could go wrong. A planned trip to Hawaii was a good opportunity to confront my fear. I was initially incredibly nervous during the certification process and was not sure if I would ever dive again. But each time I went into the water, I grew more confident. And then I fell in love with the zen of diving.
The power of kanban is more than just visualizing your workflow. It pushes everyone to understand what needs to get done next — so priorities are clear and the team can work better together. This is why we continue to enhance the workflow board in Aha!
Product management is rewarding. And it is also really hard work. I know a few product managers who have the toughest challenge out there — leading a product that is built on a platform or collection of products managed by other people. You need to advocate for your product every day. In the process, those other people’s problems become yours as well. It can be difficult to see how an individual product is making a real impact on the business. So what should a product manager do?
Maps have always captured my imagination. It started when I was a kid — my parents and I went on a road trip every summer vacation. We would leave our home in Michigan and head west, typically to Colorado. My favorite part was sitting in the back of the car with a giant fold-out map, helping my parents navigate to our next rest area, hiking trail, or camping spot. To this day, whenever my wife mentions a new place to visit, the first thing I do is try to figure out where it is on the map.
Sharing the right information with the right audience is all about perspective. There are times when you want to show all the details and other times when you just need the highlights. As you pull everything together in an Aha! presentation, that artform (like most) requires creative thinking and flexible tools.
The guy with the laptop. This is how I am known by one of my kid’s soccer coaches. Let me explain. The kids need to be there 45 minutes before games to warm up. There is not much for parents to do during that time except chat with each other. So I pull out my laptop, find some shade, and work. Once the game begins, I put the laptop away to be fully present for the game. This is a conscious choice. But I do miss out on those pre-kickoff conversations with other parents.
Jet skiing. Baking. Beekeeping. We have written before about some of the ways our teammates at Aha! recharge. I have to smile when I think about Andrew, our own software developer/beekeeper — working on code all morning before heading to the apiary in his garden. While he and his daughter enjoy caring for their hive, there is a different type of bee that is much more bothersome in most offices.
Does this sound unrealistic? A screening call on Monday. An interview with the hiring manager on Tuesday. A chat with another cross-functional team member on Wednesday. A video call with the CTO on Thursday. This rapid cadence is not unusual at Aha! — our team acts quickly to schedule conversations with promising candidates who have applied to an open role. But I know this is not the case at the majority of organizations.