Something I love about product management here at Salesforce – among many things – is the way I’m always learning something new. Often the hard way, but hey, my motto’s “make every mistake, and make it only once..” (sigh).
Anyway, one thing I’ve had drilled into my head the last couple months: Patience isn’t just a virtue, it’s an absolute must in product. Gotta have it.
For the record, I’m not in any way a patient person. I read fast. I walk fast. I interrupt people who’re talking too slowly. I get irritated by phone lag when I’m talking to Europe. And man, product management forces you to be patient in infinitely cruel and innovative ways. So I’m learning.
The daily standup takes patience; I want things to go faster. I want people to talk faster. I want them to explain their results, not tell us how they got there. I want to make a decision. Let’s move!
… But it’s vital to step back and be an observer of the team in action. Everyone has a role to play — and in agile methodology, product is supposed to act as a resource in the daily standup; I’m not supposed to try and run the meeting. And I just gum up the works when I pitch in too often. Patience, padawan…
Planning takes patience: I want to plan now, because the schedule says we’re supposed to do planning today – even though we’re behind on bugs, and the devs haven’t looked at the stories yet, and we’re just. Not. Ready. But we’re supposed to plan today! Let’s jut plan and get it over with! I understand the stories. OK, Mostly…
… but when I don’t cross all the T’s and dot the I’s, and when I push too hard (this just happened to me), then we get into a planning meeting, and I’m nervous, and everyone else is irritated. Bad combination. Lesson? Wait until everyone is ready to go. Listen to your managers when they go “we can’t plan yet, it’s too soon.” … and most important, don’t be afraid of waiting. So we get one less story done (maybe) and everyone’s happier (certainly), and sometimes we even move faster in the long run.
Working in a big company takes patience: I get so very very tired of verifying we’re doing the right thing at every turn. I have too many stakeholders, and so does everyone else. (Or maybe we’re just a matrixed organization, and collaboration is the name of the game in business these days.. ;). My team is too dependent on other teams, and we can’t move until they do. They’re too dependent on us, and we have to drop stories to get their stories in. Can’t we just do our own thing, already?!?
… But when I play by the rules, and when I plan far enough in advance, we’re a big company with an incredible amount of power, and we can all move together. I have to be patient, and get all the signoffs, and wait to make the right move at the right time. And in the long run, we get a lot more done, together.
Working on a big project Just. Takes. Time.
And maybe this is the hardest thing of all – You have to learn to pace yourself. (It’s kinda amusing how many people have said this to me recently. And kinda sad. But I digress…).
Thing is, if you’re going to do an enormous project – or an enormous product – with lots of smart people, and lots of roadmap, and greenfield every way you look, it’s going to take time. And customers want things now, and partners want things now, and internal stakeholders want things now.
And I want to do amazing things and make everyone happy, and have awesome demos, and get everything all out the door in one release, and I see other Product Managers having great successes — and I have to remind myself: they’re two years farther in, and they’ve laid the groundwork.
And they’ve been patient.
And focused. But that’s another post ;)