Valuable Lessons for Product Managers — Part 2
Innovation needs an entrepreneurial mindset.
Innovation is a change that unlocks new values
Don’t get me wrong, (here) I am, not saying you shouldn’t be data-driven. Being data-driven will help you make decisions based on facts. What I am saying is Innovation needs looking beyond data. Analyzing deeper/wider context than what is in front of you, taking a risk, and still doing it.
I always remember one quote from Henry Ford ‘If I asked people what they want, they would say faster horse.’ Your user base will tell you what their problem with the existing feature is, but don’t look for solutions or answers from them. They don’t know what they want. That’s your job to figure it out. To innovate means to fail a lot and learn from them.
There is nothing that can describe your role fully.
If you want it, work for it.
If you think that you have the luxury to do only what is mentioned in your role description, you are in the wrong role. Your job is to get things done. No roles and responsibility list can tell you what you need to do to get the job done. Have an open mind to do whatever it takes. Sometimes you will be filling in excel full of product IDs that are not in your role description but needed to make it timely delivery, and if that’s what is hindering the delivery, you solve it. I have done sketches, designs, filled in the paperwork, and even gave speeches when needed to boost my teams motivation. Whatever it took to get the job done is in my role description as a product owner. Once you realize this, you will be more happy, productive, and efficient at work.
Admitting your mistake will make you a superhero.
Be brave to admit your mistake and be wise to learn from them.
There are so many days when things don’t go according to plan, and that ok because adapting to change should be your second nature as a product owner. There is no weirdness in making mistakes; what will differentiate you is if you are ready and willing to admit your them. It will help you grow in your role and earn respect. In this world, no one can be full-proof. We try, we fail, sometimes we make mistakes, but if you are brave enough to admit it and rectify it, you are on the right path. Defending your actions will take you down the spiral of blame game and anxiety. Instead, try to say ‘I was wrong, and I have learned from this’ whoever is in front of you will respect you for your action than despise you in any way.
Simple is good
Simplicity is the key to brilliance — Bruce Lee
As a product thinker, your approach to everything should be to make it simple. If you ask yourself how to simplify this, you will be amazed at the ideas that pops in your head. When your team talks about some complex solution, ask them for a simple explanation and see how their approach changes. The simpler, the better. There are often simple solutions to complex problems. Go back to the bases to identify why you were trying to solve it in the first place, and maybe you will find that you lost the purpose on the way to development. Simplify solutions for your users, simplify ways of working for your team, simplify everything around that looks complicated and messy.
It is not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters
Reaction to any situation decides if you will drown at the moment or rise above it. Think before you react. In this role failed deliveries, missed deadlines and incorrect hypothesis is inevitable, what sets you apart is how you react when you face this challenges. I know first hand that failure does hurt every time especially when you know it’s not entirely your fault but remember ‘Successful delivery is a team effort, and failed deliveries are product owners responsibility. Motivate your team in downtime instead of being upset. Anger and irritation will not get you anywhere instead try understanding and compassion and see how your equation with your team and the people working in your surroundings changes over time.
We learn a lot in this job every day. Looking back in the rear view mirror to learn and pick up brains from your past mistakes will take you 1000 miles ahead in your current situation.
Author: Bindiya Thakkar