How To Escape The Phantom Zone Of Development? Provide Context

Yesterday, we looked at an example of what makes Superman so super.

Today, we’re using that idea as a springboard into a discussion of the importance of providing context to your product team.

Get yourself–and your team–out of the Phantom Zone of indecision and ambiguity.

What Makes Superman So Super?

His ability to fly? His near invulnerability? X-Ray vision? Super hearing? Ability to look good in tights?

No. Those abilities make him a superhero. But they are not what make him super; they aren’t what makes him special.

Superman is super because of his ability to inspire. To offer encouragement and hope. To provide context to the lost and help people help themselves.

What Makes A Product Manager Super?

Anyone who manages (or, has taken a course on management) knows that all managers plan, organize, command, coordinate, and control.

Product managers have additional roles and responsibilities.

Super product managers, in my experience, are also able to help their teams reduce uncertainty and resolve ambiguities by providing context.

Up, Up, And Away!

Unlike Superman, we can’t be everywhere at once. If you try, you’ll burn out. And if you only pay attention to the loudest internal voices or the most needy or the biggest complainers, you put yourself and your product at risk.

Some PMs desperately wish to avoid getting sucked into scrums and other, more engineering-oriented meetings. These PMs often portray the situation as an engineering or organizational issue, and not one easily addressed.

That’s wrong.

If you’re sitting with the development team all day, you’re not communicating with customers–and that’s a problem. And it’s not engineering’s problem; it’s yours.

How do you avoid getting sucked into the Phantom Zones of development or sales or any of the other areas that demand a PM’s attention?

Product managers need to provide enough context so engineering–or any group touching the product–can make appropriate decisions based on good data.

Don’t get trapped being the fulcrum of every tiny decision that needs to be made.

Figure out–and make clear to the team–what decisions you must be part of, and which they can make on their own. Make sure–make it your mission–to provide them with the information they need to make good decisions in your absence.

This may sound easy, but that’s the problem with Superman, right? He makes everything look effortless.

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