Timing is Everything

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Technically, I shouldn’t be writing this right now since it is early evening.  At least, that is what author Daniel Pink stated earlier in referencing findings from his recent book When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing.  While at the Gartner Data & Analytics Summit this week, I had the opportunity to sit in on Daniel’s key note address, and the results were fascinating. Surprising in some cases, unsurprising in others, but fascinating nonetheless.

In a nutshell, there are times during the day when people are happier and more productive at certain tasks, and taking breaks does make a difference. A snip-it from the book description … Timing, it’s often assumed, is an art. In reality, timing is really a science. How can we use the hidden patterns of the day to build the ideal schedule?  How can we turn a stumbling beginning into a fresh start?

Read on if your are sufficiently intrigued.

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Analysts, Partners, & Councils

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This past week was one of those heavy travel weeks meeting with various industry participants out on the West Coast.  On the flight home last night, I couldn’t help but reflect on a few salient elements of those meetings that play into our roles as Product Management leaders every day.

  • Strategy – Identifies and develops the strategy for the business/product.
  • Visionary/ Information Bearer – Looks to the future for change opportunities.
  • Evangelist/Thought Leader – The face of an organization, represents company at public events.

These are a subset of points I made in a post nearly 4 years ago where I was comparing the roles/responsibilities of a CEO to a couple of job descriptions for Product Management.  I think you’ll enjoy that post, but today I wanted to share my reflections from each of the meetings mentioned in the post title.

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The End of an Era

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He who has a why can endure any how. Knowing your why is an important first step in figuring out how to achieve the goals that excite you and create a life you enjoy living (versus merely surviving!).

This quote from German philosopher Frederick Nietzsche seemed appropriate given the topic of purpose has been on my mind quite a bit lately.  To some degree all of us yearn for a sense of belonging, to know our strengths are being brought to bear, to know we are adding value or making a difference.

Several factors recently have me revisiting this, and yesterday’s passing of Billy Graham is one of them offering a fantastic example of someone who was singular in his belief, in his passion, in his vocation.  Put aside any religious biases for a moment … what leadership lessons can we take from his legacy?

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Knowing Me, Knowing You

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Had a wonderful lunch conversation today, and the context reminded me of an article I once read many moons ago.   And as happens sometimes, my mind would not let go of the topic.  So I decided to see if I could dig it out of the archives … lo and behold, I still had it!

The article is titled Unschooling: The Secret to Being a Great Leader and this is one I definitely recommend you dig into for yourself.  There are a couple of poignant items I took away, and they brought to mind lessons I learned from a Leadership training program I went through almost a decade ago. Allow me to share thoughts from both.

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Are You Sure You Are Ready?

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Today’s topic has been top of mind for the past several weeks.  Over the course of my career, I’ve found it to be one of the most under-appreciated, under-utilized, and misunderstood topics in product management. Finding maturity in this specific area has been a rare occurrence, and yet the importance it carries cannot be understated.

For some it means simply finishing development, exiting QA and putting code into production.  For others it is a toss over the wall to marketing so they can wave their magic wand. And for others it is akin to showing up for a final exam without having done the work along the way to ensure success.

FunnySalesCartoonNew_product_launch

Yep, you may have guessed it … product launch.  Or perhaps you know it as go-to-market, or maybe product readiness. Whatever you call it, fundamentally it begs the question … are you sure you are ready?

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Focus Is About Saying No

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As Product Management leaders, enhancement requests come at us from all directions. But are all requests equal?  And do customer requests supersede what is already on the roadmap? As your products become more mature and more complex, prioritization becomes more critical. Several coalescing experiences over the past week reminded me the answer isn’t always easy.

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“If everything seems under control, you’re not going fast enough.”

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The post title is a quote from Mario Andretti. I assume most know who Mario Andretti is, but for those who may not he is one of the most successful racing drivers in history (Formula One, Indy car, and NASCAR).  I’ve been in a NASCAR going 180 mph … I did not feel under control .. and I wasn’t even driving!  But we shouldn’t miss the point of the quote … success sometimes means making decisions that include risk and certainly may require courage.

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What Appears To Be Isn’t Always What Is

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Perspective. If you were to look up the definition and focus on the non-artistic aspect of the meaning, you would find descriptions like ‘the facts known to one … the faculty of seeing all the relevant data … a mental view or prospect … understanding from a certain point of vperspective_taking_69iew’. And the cold hard truth is, whether specific to a certain situation, or due to a lack of maturity or experience, we don’t always have it.

If you have children (especially teenagers) or if you remember your own childhood (especially the teenage years) you understand exactly what I mean. What appears to be isn’t always what is.

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The Light at the End of the Tunnel & New Year Perspectives

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Taking stock towards the end/beginning of a year is always a good idea.  I had every intention of doing this prior to taking some vacation, but unfortunately the dreaded holiday bug caught up with me this year and laid me out for the better part of a week.

So, a bit later than expected, but as we enter 2018 here are some thoughts related to the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel, a few thought provoking questions to be considered, and a re-share of some New Year’s Resolutions for Product Management Leaders.  Enjoy!

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The Bird Chooses the Tree … The Tree Does Not Choose the Bird

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The post title comes from a connection on LinkedIn … an author who enjoys teaching others about the differences between management and leadership … one of many inputs I value on my own leadership journey. So what does the question posed in the image have to do with leadership?

Over the years, I’ve had many posts centering on the topic of purpose.  Taking some of those thoughts to heart, I would argue the question has everything to do with the role we serve as Product Management leaders.

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