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Archive for the ‘nature’ Category

vacation time

Before the vacation there was a blog post over at product management zen about Vacation time. It generated a little debate in the comments and here is my follow up to it after my vacation.

Bear walking

I was last week in Finland photographing bears and as we spent our nights in the hides and days eating and resting I could not notice to see how I utterly got into the vacation mode and out of the office mode. My secret is to not read ANY job related mails, blogs or even show up on Skype. I daily read my personal blogs, participated in debates on internet sites I joined at my free time and even posted on my personal blogs with bear photos. So I was still fairly connected and online.

But to be out of reach for the daily office tasks and challenges was so great and made me feel much more rested than if I had checked my email daily (as some suggested). and it also makes me come back with new energy on monday.

OK, I now see some of you say “but I cant be away and out of communication for a whole week, they need me”.

Do you really listen to yourself, of course they dont need you. Some day they will have to do without you, and they will do that. If you have no one that can step in for you a single week, how are you going top manage of you leave the job? If you have no succession planning in place please start it now. One great way of making someone ready as a successor is on the job training, and that can be done when you are on vacation. The person both gets the feel for the job, and you get the feel for if they can handle it.

So next year, stop feeling all important and like you are the only one who can do your job. Make sure someone else does it and take you well deserved time off.

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I am on vacation on the Norwegian island of Runde “Home of the puffin bird”. I learned yesterday that the puffin bird will always put themselves first. If there is not enough food for them they will just abandon their child/egg. You can always lay a new egg another year if you preserve yourself.

Is that not what we should do?

Puffin bird at Runde in Norway

Abandon any pet projects we have and protect the core product at any cost. Well we may end up a bit hurt, and our pride may take a hit. But we will end up with our core product intact and can always make a new move tomorrow. Are we not to fond of our pet projects, so that sometimes we put to much energy into them so that our core product get hurt?

As product managers we should always be on the edge and be innovative, but please remember we need to protect our core product, our foundation. Without it we have nothing to build upon.

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Of course we do, do not everybody has that? Well joke aside, we don’t. But yes, I live up on 60 degrees north, but no the weather is not snow all year around.

What defines living in Sweden and working in a European company is that you will have to be flexible in schedule and prepared to spend a lot of time on airports. A meeting with people in the same company might just end you up with an 18 hour day. Starting by leaving home at 6.30, flight going from Arlanda at 7.55, landing at Heathrow 9.35, getting to office and arrive around 11. Meeting to 5, getting to airport again at 7, having some dinner and flight going at 9 that will land you at Arlanda 00.30 the next day.

So yes, there are some long days, but you know that when you sign up for it. Either you like the challenges and put up with it, or you go for a domestic job.  Another option is to give up on Sweden and just move to some more central point in Europe. If you believe that’s an option you have never lived here. The long days (and dark winters) is compensated by really good summers with long light nights and a splendid nature around the corner.

Winter at home

I transitioned from a domestic Product Manager to a European Product Manager almost 2 years ago and found myself going from an environment where I knew all the customers and just was involved in everything to be in an environment where I had to rely on others more.

Other had the face to face meetings with customers. I met people over Live meeting, Skype and phone. Suddenly I could not just walk over to sales, development, operations or delivery. All those functions were scattered over Europe. Yes I met them occasionally but not the unscheduled meeting where some quick info was exchanged

I had to adapt to a more organized way of doing everything as I could not do product Management by the coffee machine anymore (that is a topic for another post). Now 2 years later we are changing the game again, now we move from Waterfall development to Agile. My upcoming posts will deal with the changes that brings to daily life.

Christian

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