In 2018, my husband and I embarked on buying our first home. We purchased an older home (built in the 1920's as far as we know) and it was in pretty decent shape. We knew there were some cosmetic things that could be updated (we dreamed of adding a new kitchen and finishing the attic) and that we'd tackle them over time.
What we didn't realize was the tremendous iceberg beneath the surface: the water line to the house was lead and needed to be replaced for health reasons because at the time, we were planning to start a family; the gutters needed to be fixed because the holes led to puddles that froze over and became ice skating rinks in unfortunate places (like our front door); the home had zero insulation and would need some blown in because otherwise we'd be paying for more natural gas than we really need. I could go on and on. You get the idea.
And you might be wondering, so what does this have to do with digital products?
It is very similar to the concept of "technical debt."
Continue reading "What Homeownership Taught me about Technical Debt"
As product folks, we are asked to drive value and in order to do this we need to be somewhat ruthless about what we do, and consequently what we do not do. I always refer to this as 'ruthless prioritization' but it's not quite as antagonistic as it sounds.
Why does it feel ruthless?
I want to address why it often feels ruthless or downright "icky" for us to prioritize work this way:
- You are saying no, possibly a lot: you might feel like a killjoy as you constantly re-focus your peers on the less fun stuff that you might need to achieve. Or, this could lead to difficult conversations and/or escalations (depending on the type of company you work at).
- You are ignoring known customer or operational pain points: this one took me a while to overcome; you know your customer, you empathize with your customer and so when you see something wrong, you desperately want to fix it. In this case, you can't — and that's okay, you will run yourself ragged if you aim for perfection.
What does it mean to be ruthless?
While being ruthless is associated with not showing compassion, I'd argue that in this case, it's about taking the passion out of it for a second. Continue reading "Ruthless Prioritization"
In short, no.
To elaborate (because I have many thoughts on this!), I'll share a story about a colleague I managed as a result of some organizational restructuring. Continue reading "Do You Need to Be Technical to be a Product Manager?"