Day 146: You can’t sit everyone in a room

… Or you could, potentially leading product development into the quagmire of approval processes, indecision and standoffs. In other words, down the spiral of PRODUCT DEATH!

I exaggerate (or on second thoughts, maybe not I’m too far off), but how willing are you and your team to adopt the “do first and ask for forgiveness later” mantra? Especially if possible implications are being wrong (without full backing) and having to correct mistakes made? And we know mistakes will be made.

The devs had pretty much finished a ticket when I had a request to change the spec. It was a pretty minor change, but a change nonetheless. What happened was that another stakeholder saw the specs and had some concerns (valid ones). So the stakeholder discussed with the requestor, who was initially resistant but eventually agreed – and we were asked to make the change. (Now in fairness, the stakeholder was from another team and the requestor had already approached some people from that team)

This was a small change, but what if it was a big one? One entailing a complete rewrite?

I did entertain a fleeting thought of making sure everything got 100% approval before it came to my desk, or soliciting these stamps of approval myself. But I think that’s not productive, having witnessed these layers of hierarchy and approvals in previous work.

It means that you have to be willing to trust, to be wrong (or for requestors to be wrong), to roll-back and rewrite. But I suppose that is Agile. And while this was mostly internal, I’d imagine the impact to be greater if the product actually launched (whether as end-product of a sprint for show, or as an actual version), where real-world feedback could be obtained.

So, be willing to make the mistake (and let your requestors make them too). Because, taking risks are important – these experiments potentially improve the product for the users. Maybe not double-work after all.

I jumped from Product Marketing to Product Management at Zalora recently. These posts represent a journal of my learnings and reflections – you can keep track of my journey by joining the mailing list here.


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