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This blog is no more. It has ceased to be. It’s expired and gone to meet its maker. This is a lateblog . It’s a stiff. Bereft of life, it rests in peace. If you hadn’t nailed it to the perch, it would be pushing up the daisies. It’s rung down the curtain and joined the choir invisible. This is an ex-blog.

A year ago I changed from product management to Solutions Consultant. At the time I had the idea to continue writing, but it seemed like I never got any ideas about what, and why. So here was he blog. Resting, nagging on me for posts, always the guilty concious.
I have therefore decided that I will just stop this blog here and now.
I hope this will make me able to revive my talent management blog, that has also been resting for a year. See you all there instead.

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Ok, I got requested earlier to write about the professional service side of business, as I now work in that side. So here goes

It’s interesting, when working in project to deliver a product you get squeezed between the deal the sales did and the product that the product managers have developed. You are supposed to deliver on the deal, make it come true, keep the customer happy. And you have to do it with the tools given.

No more defining the tools.

And we all know what happens. There is something sold that is not in the product, or the expectation from the customer is not what we can deliver, interpretation of the deal differs.

As a good delivery consultant you then try to make the customer happy. Try to convince the product manager to deliver what you need.

And here is where it all goes funny.

As a former product manager you know the buttons to push, and you know the response even before you get it. You write good emails to the product manager trying to convince it to make the feature you need, and 9 times out of 10 you will know the answer before you get it.

All good and rational answers, but does not really help you out.

So whats the conclusion?

All product managers should really try to deliver the product without being able to cheat. Its really a learning experience. If we also could get the sales to do the same (that won’t happen) world would be a better place.

Later I will write about the good and valid reasons and give some tips to the delivery consultant

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Christmas time, again

SantaSo its Christmas time, and right thereafter New years eve. And its time to summarize 2012. Or not.

 

I will not summarize a year that probably was so diverse it cant be summarized. I will however reflect over December and Christmas.

 

For some December is the last month to actually get the deal signed so you reach your quota.

For some December is the month that is rather slow, and you can get done what you dont have time for the rest of the year.

For some its simply a good month to have a bit of vacation.

 

Which category you are I dont know, but most product managers ae probbaly the middle one and most HR professionals probbaly want to prepare for next years Talent Management processes and therefore bordeline category 1.

 

So please, when you are done, make sure you land in category 3 at least some time. The human body and brain need time off. And by time off I dont mean connected to the office through your phone. The only reason that is ”needed” is that everyone else thinks the same. If we all turned them off and did not read email. There would not be any emails to read.

 

So a merry christmas and a email free holiday

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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 its about swedish product management, but why is it better, or more importantly are Swedish persons better product managers?

Off course we are, what a questions, let me explain it to you.

 

Have a look at this map

Here we see a map of the world based on two factors.

  1. Traditional – Secular rational values
  2. Survival – Self expression

In order to be a good product manager you need to be rational above all else. No guessing about what the customer wants based on your own views and beliefs. Go out there,

  • get to know the market
  • get to know the customer
  • get to know the competition

Then you make your decisions based on factual input, nothing else.

The second is the survival or self expression factor. You might think that the survival is the best, but actually no. The survival is for people who don’t think about the product but

  • Think about being liked
  • Think about the long term employment
  • Think about tomorrow for its own sake and security

The good product manager is  in reality so convinced that he (or she) is right that they tell everyone what is right, and don’t think about the self preservation survival. If they don’t get it the product manager finds new company that gets it. He (or as it may be, she) is the one person who truly knows it all and tells that to everyone. (the manner in how they tell it is important but that is for another blog post)

So the perfect product manager is

  • Rational
  • Good at expressing its own opinion

And what do we find in the upper right corner of the map?

quod erat demonstrandu:-) 

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Its all about the vision

17 months ago when I started this blog I also embarked on a journey in SCRUM and distributed development. Me in Sweden, my colleges all over Europe and the team in Mumbai. During that time we have done roughly 15 sprints and with a team growing in size, getting more experienced and also a Product Owner gradually actually knowing what he was doing.

So what is it I have learned?

I have earlier talked about the need of being there, to visit the team. I have also had my misgivings about SCRUM.

But now when I see the product and look back I realise that every time I have failed to truly communicate the vision; Not the single user story or even epic, but the grand vision, I have got a lot more work in doing late explaining and a result the deivery has not always been what I wanted.

When I have truly taken the time to lift the eyes from the daily work and communicated the grand goal, the vision, and got the team to share that vision with me they have learned what I want and have been better and better to anticipate me and my goals. They have been able to get to me with input, ideas and feedback.

So try to communicate not only what you are doing now, communicate the vision.

  • What are we trying to achieve?
  • Why are we doing it?
  • Who is the end user?
  • Why are they going to use the software?

When you succeed in doing that you will get a much better understanding and the team will surprise you in a positive way. Trust in the team, but they need to understand why you want them to do stuff.

So sit down, take your whiteboard and communicate, draw maps, ideas, visions. Talk about user experience, user goals and market goals. The team wants it, they need it, dont just look one or a few sprints ahead.

 

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Steve Jobs just passed away. I can’t say I was a fan of all the products but I was a fan of the innovator and the visionary. The debate about his status as a product manager will probably never end. Was he the greatest ever or was he ridden with flaws? I really don’t know and I don’t think we will ever reach the truth

What is undeniable is that

  • He was a great visionary. He saw further than most and saw where ideas might lead.
  • He was a great inventor. He not only saw the future, he actually brought it to the present
  • His inventions where often not in the technical realm. He was not the first with a MP3-player or a smart phone, or even a pad. But he made them stylish and he sold a life style with them. He got the whole package together and made the idea hits

If he then was not the best collaborator or even the savviest in navigation internal politics (he after all got himself thrown out of his own company at one time) I think that is forgivable.

We will all remember him and have opinions about him. My opinion is some half reluctant admiration. He changed the business and he changed our lives. For that he gets credit and should be honored for.

We will remember you Steve.

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