August 3, 2012 6 Comments
In the past, I have written what a new software product manager should plan do in the first 30 days on a new job to be successful. If you are planning to start on the right foot at a new job, a key thing you need to understand is constraints. Especially in a startup, during early days when things are move lightening fast, shortcuts are the norm because of constraints. There is not enough money, people and most importantly time. You are trying to put your MVP (minimum viable product) out there, get early success to build upon that there are not enough hours in the day to do things better than you are doing now.
So if you are a new product manager who walks into such an environment, the last thing you want to do is to criticize the way things are. Instead, spend the time to understand the reasons why things are the way they are. 9 times out of 10, the folks that have been there are not stupid to have done what they have done. The team will be very appreciative if someone takes the time to appreciate what they have done under the constraints they had. I am not suggesting that you be disingenuous and praise something when everyone around you knows it is a pile of shiitake. You have been hired for a reason. If you are hired as a VP of Product, it is probably because things have not been rosy and the company needs a direction. But before you start to rock the cart, first find the reason for the current madness.
Another occasion where understanding constraints becomes valuable is when you are making a business case for something. Sell the idea first (before you ask for resources), make sure there is buy-in and then outline the constraints that will need to be resolved if the idea needs to succeed. This could be asking for more people or funding.
Thoughts? Do you agree? What can you share from your experiences?
Image: Courtesy of scmep.org