Friday, April 06, 2007

motivation: transparency and the chorus

Preamble: I get a day off and my eyes still crash open at 5:30am. Go figure.

Jeff Lash, author of the eminently practical How To Be A Good Product Manager, left a link comment for me in the wee hours of this morning. Thank you Jeff.

Jeff writes practical guides on how not to suck at being a PM. I'm a big fan. On behalf of PMs everywhere, I will extend my thanks to Jeff for his tremendous service, as it is so


incredibly. . .easy. . . to suck at being a PM.


I'll even posit that "How to be Good at X" is not the same thing as "How Not to Suck at X". But I digress.

Let's take a few steps back and consider our role in the organization. We few, we happy few product managers are lobbyists, we're ninja-smart cat-wranglers and duck-herders. We cajole, we encourage, we align, we direct. But we rarely ever "own". We don't speak for ourselves, since we have no true "power".

When we say "no" we're acting as the spokesperson for something bigger than ourselves, for a vision-driven operational plan on whose successful execution the future of the company depends.

I'd like to think our motivations are utterly transparent. So when we say "no" (or "yes" for that matter), we're merely acknowledging that a certain request is not in alignment with this plan.

In the end, all I can do to "not suck" in this area is to work to make sure that everyone understands the plan, everyone owns it, which has the practical effect of making my "no" just one voice in a chorus of "nos".

(Side Note - Today is Good Friday. Not the most fun day in the Catholic calendar.)


Ron said...

J.C. humor on Good Friday no less!

Jeff said...

Glad you like my blog and thanks for the nice words. Being a good product manager is not just doing the good things, but it's NOT doing the bad things. One bad PM move can erase lots of good ones. I also like to clarify that my blog is How To Be A Good Product Manager, not How To Be A Great Product Manager. It's very easy to be bad, and very tough to be great.

Of course, is this any different than any other job or role?