Archive for the ‘sweden’ Category

I recently came across a new application that is so obvious once you see it that everyone could have thought about it, but did they?

Video showing the transportation/tourist app

No, but some product manager at the local public transportation company in Gothenburg did. They had an app showing their transportation, the phones had GPS and they had a city full of tourists.

So someone obviously connected the dots and put tourist information into the app, and then connected these into a tour, so you could use the ordinary local transportation to get a narrated tour thruogh the city, full with info about the city, but also with directions on where and when to change public transportation. No need anymore for expensive tour operators.

As with most good product management its an elegant idea, easy to understand, useful and nothing fancy.


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First time I went to see my team in India (see reports from that trip here and here) I did not know what to expect. We were 4 Product Owners going and we prepared, had expectations, worked together and somehow it all went well. Next time I was more prepared and had this long list of what I wanted to achieve. The schedule was unrealistic and I achieved just some of my goals.

This time I made a list. I divided it into must do and nice to do. And I emailed it ahead. Knowing by now that

  1. It wold change
  2. Items would pop up
  3. Items would disappear
  4. They also had things they wanted from me/discuss with me
  5. It would all come together at the end
In the beginning i was frustrated over that it seemed so hard to do a schedule

On Monday I arrive, on Tuesday we go over UI, on Wednesday we plan sprint x…

That never worked. That’s the Swedish way. And to be honest, we work in different way, I sometimes find it hard to understand the funny people on that little British island. And my neighbors the Danes, don’t get me started. So off course we are wired different in Sweden and India.

So now i make a list and email it. Pursue a couple of items each day, and feel confident that by the end off the week all must dos and most nice to dos are done. They seem to be done even without that detailed schedule I seem to want. Swedish and Indian way of working actually goes well together, we just need to be aware of how the other do stuff.

So accept that we do things different, learn how others do, and adapt. Its all about give and take and understanding. Without that you will fail.

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So this is the Swedish product management blog. But what is so Swedish about it?

Well I for one am Swedish, and I write the blog?

And now it’s time to dive into the way Swedish people think and how that impacts on product management.

All countries have their own way of management style. Germany does it by workers council, US by strong leaders, Finish by perkele and Swedish leaders by mutual agreement.

Santa claus

Yes you read it right, mutual agreement. There is nothing that a Swede hates more than tell people to just accept it and stop complaining.  And then we get to my other thing. Product management as the noble art of saying no.

So if we want mutual agreement in Sweden and product management is sometimes just about not going there. You as the product manager are the ones making decisions (they will certainly blame you for them later so you might as well make them). How is it to be a product manager in Sweden?

If you want to play be Swedish “rules” and be nice and mutually agreeable then you are in for a ride.  Support will ask you things, sales other things, you boss a third thing and delivery some features they need to make their lives easier. On top of that the customer will call you and make requirements. Sounds familiar? Yes off course, that’s the average life for a product manager. And then you sit down with this huge list and try to make everyone happy and accommodate everybody’s wishes and end up with a plan for the next 20 years.

So time to just accept it, a Swedish product manager can’t be very Swedish, it won’t work.

So what do we do?

  1. The customers, start by making clear what the roadmap is. It’s really important to communicate it so that you start the debate. If you start it you can steer it. You will still get a lot of input, but if you can point to already published material a Swedish person will accept it much more easily than if you say no and later publish a roadmap. Anything that is pre published is the truth. We regard our government the same way. If it is a law or a regulation it must be good, it was made in due order, so who am I to say it’s wrong.  (Imagine the French using that logic?)
  2. Sales, same here. Tell them what to expect, give them feature list and tell them. This is what you need to sell. You will be surprised on how adaptable they are. Sure, they will come every now and then with requirements needed to close a deal, but then we go back to the published roadmap and explain. Sorry it is not on the roadmap. Never mind that you did the roadmap and can change it. It is published and therefore the truth.
  3. Delivery. Well once you have the sales and customer sin line the delivery will get a piece of cake. They are happy to deliver stuff and will do what’s in the contract that sales made with the customers, so fix item 1 and 2 and you have done this one too.
  4. Support: They may need a bit of sweet talking. They are the ones stuck with the customers after delivery and sales are done with them.  They need the arguments behind the roadmap. But once they have them they will be able to say “Well, it’s not on the roadmap as it was deemed of lower priority that that one because of blah blah blah”. Key action: Publish the roadmap so they can point at it (see its published and then it’s the truth)
  5. Your boss: Last we come to your boss. If sales are happy, and selling. The customers are happy and the delivery process is on track. Why should your boss not be happy? Every day your boss don’t need to overrule anyone he will be happy ( go back to mutual agreement style)

So now you know how to be a Swedish product manager. Seems like the Swedish are a peculiar bunch of people? Oh yes we are, just in our way as all other Europe is in their way.  Once you have mastered handling Swedish, then it’s time for you to try to handle the rest of the Europeans.

How easy they must have it over in US, one country, one language, one set of legislation.

Merry Christmas everyone.

Here in Sweden we have agreed to have a long and nice Christmas with plenty of food and no work, so we meet up in mid January again

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