Here’s a list of 6 things your product person hates, 7 that drive them crazy. Please try and use this list for good rather than evil.
Weather permitting, this weekend I am going to record a set of 12.25-minute podcasts for a series I’m calling “Software Product Therapy.” Topics I’m covering come from a list of #productManagementPainPoints I’ve been collecting on Twitter.
Today being Friday, I thought I might offer a bit of fun in sharing seven of these insanity-inducing items in the hopes it would inspire some of Y’all to add to my list ‘b.s.’ that drives you batty.
1. Command & Control Prioritization.
For the 3 of you who’ve not yet consumed, shared, and hopefully plagiarized my parody book covers from the ‘Product Management Prioritization Menagerie’ series, it’s a zoo out there.
So at the top of this list of things that make for psychotic product peeps are the various wild beasts a poor PO has to tame from time-to-time. We’re talking dangerous, or at least annoying creatures such as the HiPPOs, WOLFs, ZEbRAs, RHiNOs and Seagull Managers that go nuts in top-down, command and control settings.
2. Promises of more resources that never materialize
“Just keep in mind, as with all feature requests …
… we are blessed with unlimited opportunities …
… tempered by limited resources.” — Dean Peters, more often than he likes.
Setting expectations is hard enough, it’s even harder when you’re told you’ll get more developers, better testing tools, or a bit more bandwidth to get something done … only to find out later that they aren’t going to come your way due to changes in priorities or reallocation of funds.
Such ‘shift happens’ in the world of business, it’s just a bit maddening when it happens after plans have been put into motion based on said promises.
3. Team members who pitch code and quality over the fence
I’m currently blessed with awesome teams of talented people who care. That wasn’t always the case at some my past places of employment.
Nothing drives a product owner “noo-noo bananas” faster than opening up an updated screen only to see obvious UX issues that make it awkwardly obvious that those involved in the coding and creation process didn’t even bother to look at the end-result once before pushing their update.
Image credit for the related O’Rly cover displayed here goes to James Jeffery, who offers even more color to this coding conundrum in his most post ‘Common Excuses Why Developers Don’t Test Their Software.’
4. One-off feature requests to make a sale
If you’ve never had the pleasure of hearing Steve Johnson talk then you’re probably missing the deliciously sarcastic voice in my head I’m hearing when I read his recent Tweet while referencing a stellar blog post by Rich Mironov titled ‘The Slippery Slope of Sales-Led Development’
sales one-offs are crack cocaine: pleasure-inducing, habit-forming, and generating barely-plausible explanations of why every deal is the last one we’ll do custom work for https://t.co/9jraAKuvts via @RichMironov
— Steve Johnson (@sjohnson717) December 5, 2018
5. Non-team members who arbitrarily promise features and deadlines that the team must keep.
“Your zeal is writing checks our developers can’t back.” — Dean Peters, occasionally, and always under his breath, when surprised with a super-tight delivery date for a new feature, neither of which was discussed prior to a promise being made.
6. Receiving blamed for things out of their control
I think Mike Cohn talks about this particular product owner pain point in his most excellent article ‘The Fallacy of “One Throat to Choke,” hitting the nail on the head when he begs the question “… [Who do we] hold responsible for winning the championship? The coach? The owner? The star player?”
Unfortunately, some of those pointing the finger at the product manager for everything failed from cloud service provider outages to team member medical appointments forget Mike’s own response to his query that asserts it is “… Teams that win championships find a way to win games, no matter the circumstances.“
7. The Feature Factory
The 7th item in a 6+1 list like this is usually that one item that is not only hated … but is detestable. I can’t think of anything more loathsome and insanity-inducing than John Cutler’s description what it’s like to work in a Feature Factory.
Got crap that drives you crazy? Don’t be shy and share the luv’ in the form of a cathartic comment. I’ll take it from there.