What if someone told you, you’ve been doing product one way your entire life, and you’ve been doing it wrong?
That’s the situation Terry Moore, director of the Radius Foundation, found himself in one day when he learned he’d been tying his shoes the wrong way his entire life.
Watch the video (duration: 2 minutes, 59 seconds):
Actually, It’s More Complex Than That
Moore hadn’t been tying his shoes wrong, exactly. He’d just been taught to tie them in a weak way where the laces were more prone to unravel.
Which Got Me To Thinking
Just because I’ve been doing something a certain way for years, and have had some success at it, does not necessarily mean that it’s the strongest and best way.
So I ask myself, and I ask you to ask yourself:
Are there things that I’ve learned — things that I do — as a PM which are not wrong, per se; they’re just not as strong as they could be?
For me, the answer is “Yes”. And it’s probably “yes” for you, too.
Intellectually, it can be easy to accept we have flaws and we sometimes make mistakes. But how often do we consciously consider where we’re falling short? And how often do we actively do something about it? Especially when things seem to be going okay for us at work. Not awesome, not terrible, but acceptably all right.
We All Have Our Blind Spots
And they’re called blind spots for a reason. So what should we do?
If you have co-workers you trust and who know you, try asking them what they think of your performance and where they think you could improve.
Also, try to observe your own behavior for a week. Don’t just “do your thing”; actively take notes about your activity during the week. Apply some of those tactics you use to understand your customers and users, and you can learn a lot about yourself:
- What actions are you taking that result in outcomes that aren’t quite what you expect?
- What are you doing — or not doing — that’s weakening your relationship with others?
- How do you talk about your life as a PM to yourself and your friends?
Based on your own observations and insights from trusted advisors, you can then create hypotheses about your behaviors and test them to determine which behaviors are producing strong results and which are producing weak results.
After all — if it’s surprising to learn you’ve been tying your shoes weakly your entire life, just imagine what a little observation and testing will reveal about your efficacy as a Product Manager!