Monday, January 11, 2010

Keeping Your Product Management Job

Monday, January 4, 2010

The Positive Leader

So a key lesson I learned this past year was to try and be more positive. I often times focus on areas for improvement with our execution to the point of not being as good of a leader as I can be.

So here are a couple of things I do to try and be more positive
  • Opportunities present themselves to focus on how much has been accomplished. While the obvious one is a sprint review, I like the longer term of the annual or half-year review. I like to look back and ask myself "At the beginning of the year where was our product vs. where it is now". Doing that definitely gives me a sense of accomplishment and focuses more of my energies to making the following year better.
  • Take your mindset out of the very short term that frustrates you and focus on how it will work itself out over the next week or so. Trust your team to work through it!
  • Switch gears a little bit to get our mind off of something. I like to work on several things at once, so a switch to something more interesting or fun and can help me refocus a bit.
You have to remember that your mood and emotions are contagious. Be a leader and be positive. Don't sugar coat, don't be blind to areas of constructive and move on to the next challenge!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

The Art of Meetings

So this is a new year and while I don't like New Year's resolutions, I do think it is important to think about being more efficient with your time. I like to ask folks, describe your typical work day...for many folks the days are filled with endless meetings. So many meetings that folks bring their laptops to work during the meeting because they can't do their jobs while the meetings pile up.

So here are some of my tips for running a more efficient meeting. Obviously these rules vary a litttle bit depending on the type of meeting (e.g. project update, decision making, communicating, etc.)
  • Use an egg timer - The loud sound it makes will wake everyone up and keep everyone on time. Discipline is the name of the game here. I had a professor once who used one for our presentations. Needless to say after the first round of presentations they all suddenly were done early or on time. Pavlov at its best!
  • Start on time - The purpose of this is two fold. One, starting on time makes its easier for you to finish on time. Secondly, it helps instill a sense of discipline. People will start to feel embarassed when they walk in late. They will realize that your meetings are different. If they continually come to your meetings late, let them know in a private conversation that this is hurting the meeting and their presence on time is helpful. If it continues, stop inviting them.
  • Help everyone be prepared - 90% of being succesfull is setting expectations. Use an agenda to set those expectations with key inputs and outputs clearly defined. By defining inputs you are letting the attendees know what it is needed from them before they come to the meeting. The Agenda will describe what happens during the meeting, and the outputs describes the success criteria for the meeting.
  • Note who is not prepared - Let them know that you noticed that they weren't prepared. Also let them know how important it is for folks to be prepared in helping drive towards the output. Be tactful. If they continually aren't prepared, don't invite them.
  • Finish early - This is the MOST important rule. People will leave your meeting with "free" time. They will leave feeling they accomplished something and with the illusion that they have more time.

Remember, be tactful and artful. There is a science and an art to running meetings. Know when to apply each side of the equation to make your meetings more successful. Here is another helpful link.