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.)