In January of last year I began work as the product manager for something called the Encyclopedia of Life. A version of the product was already online at www.eol.org.
Today, the new version went live at that same URL.
And I'm having all of the standard product management emotions.
Emotion #1 - Loss. The work we were doing was secret, and now it is not. The team was galvanized by a common objective, and that objective has been reached. There are a number of other dimensions of this most unwelcome of emotions that I won't bother you with. But they're all a flavor of "it's over", even though in reality "it's just beginning". Don't expect it to make sense, it's a feeling. A Bad Feeling. The Worst Feeling. Like someone died.
Emotion #2 - Fear. What if no one likes it? What if it breaks? What if the press doesn't think it's super-fine? What if we misinterpreted some of those requirements? What if the beta testers were all "just being nice"? What if someone else does it better and launches next week? The never-ending cascade of "what ifs" feels like someone throwing rocks at you from waaay up on a building. The hits just keep coming. You want to cover your head with a metal garbage can lid and move quickly through your day, because you don't know when the next rock is going. . to . . land.
Emotion #3 - Defensiveness. I'm sorry, such-and-such a feature wasn't in the release plan. I'm sorry, we weren't able to ship with that capability. I'm sorry, that's on the known issues list. I'm sorry, we'll be sure to get that into the next release. I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry. There's never enough time to do it all, and inevitably there are people who are sad. And I'm sorry about that.
Emotion #4 - Detachment. OK, what's on the list for the next release? Yes, I know, the new version still has that clean baby / new car / spring morning smell, but, you see, product managers are Tomorrow People and I've been working on the next release for, gosh, a month now, and let's start talking timetables. Thank you, we're all very proud. It's wonderful. Now, about that Next Version.
We're wired differently. We don't take victory laps. We don't linger on current successes any more than we pore over current failures. We move on. If we're lucky, and we've got a) the support of people who love us, and b) a team we respect, admire and enjoy, we can c) move on without feeling like the one guy at a party who doesn't seem to get the fact that HE'S AT A PARTY and the point of the party is to BE HAPPY.
So with all that said, I am actually happy. At least when I'm not parsing emotions one through four.
(PS - Gosh, the new Blogger editor sure is swell.)
(PSS - Travis Jensen (@softwaremaven) believes I am suffering from "Post-shipping stress syndrome" or PSSS. I prefer to think of it as "Corrigan's Disorder". But it might explain why people think I am PSSSed lately.)