If you work in the software industry and you wonder what you should improve in order to get better I’d suggest to start with communication, especially written communication*. It doesn’t matter what you do – engineering, product/project management, or marketing – if you don’t invest in communication skills there will be little or no career growth**.
I can sense your first question: “how do you improve?”. Easy – you work on the structure, brevity, and style. But how exactly do you do this?
Pursuing perfection is one heck of an engine to push yourself and achieve more. Some say that it is a mistake because you set up yourself for failure. After all perfection is something that you can’t achieve.
Maybe this is true. I mean not the fact that is a set up for failure. It’s true in that you can only achieve moments of perfection. Any now and then you create the perfect interface, perfect strategy, perfect code, perfect presentation, and so forth. But it’s kind of impossible to maintain the bar and keep delivering only perfection afterwards.
There is also a dark side – when you play so much with the pieces you have in the search of the perfect set up and you end up choosing the wrong combination. If you weren’t looking for perfection you’d have gone with a better choice.
One quick example that comes to my mind is the Bucharest UX Conference 2015 – the first UX conference in Romania. The conference was a hit by any measure. But there was one thing that was clearly not up to the rest of the conference – the MC guy.
Knowing the people behind the conference I know they chose that guy because they wanted the best conference. But it backfired. I think they have at least one guy in their team who would have done a much better job.
But this is part of going after perfection. Sometimes works. Sometimes not.
Today was my last day at Bitdefender. They say that when visiting faraway places you take something with you back home. But you also leave a piece of you there. I think that the same is true when leaving a company.
For the past year Bitdefender has been my home, and in terms of product management my very first home. Looking back I think that I couldn’t have chosen wiser: new company, new people, and new products. This setup helped me not only to validate that product management is what I want to do for the foreseeable future but also helped me to grow. A lot.
Working in a team to achieve a common goal is something that most of us are looking for and we get lots of energy and purpose out of it. But sometimes things are the other way around. And here comes the elastic effect*: it describes the relative distance between each team’s member. As a general rule more stretched the elastic is, more chances are that there are some problems related to the member-team-goal dynamic.
How does it work? When all members of a team pull in the same direction there is no tension in the elastic. The elastic starts to stretch and becomes thinner and thinner when team members pull in different directions and/or with different intensity.
The more I find about what motivates people the less I feel that I understand the topic. And the thing is that when you work in the software industry you kinda have to dig in into this topic. Or at least this is what so many smart people write and talk about when discussing the prerequisite of successful teams and individuals.
Lately, I have the feeling that I understand two things related to this topic: the deeper reasons that motivates us to do something and two silent killers of motivation.
If you’ve been in the software business for some time you may have heard things along these lines:
– We need a senior* developer/QA/manager for this project otherwise we are ******
– A senior developer’s output is 4-10 times better than a newbie’s
– We don’t have enough seniors on this team; we need more
So what traits make these people so valuable to teams/managers/organisations? Is it the deep domain knowledge? Is it the professional and life experience? Is it the day in, day out high quality work they perform? Is it the higher productivity?
We all have to eat in order to live. But it doesn’t mean that the only solution is a restaurant or a particular restaurant. Software products are like restaurants: people may use your product but it doesn’t mean that their are stuck with it; they can go somewhere else to attend for their need.
Let’s forget for a bit about the software and focus on restaurants: why do you choose a particular restaurant? What are the must-have and nice-to-have “features” that make you choosing it? I could argue that for most people these are the things they are looking for when choosing a restaurant: quality of the food, quality of the service, restaurant location, available tables, and ambiance, curiosity or sense of adventure.*
The conference has finished couple of hours ago and I’m at the after party thinking about what I’ve seen during the day and why I have the feeling that I should be joining the conference next year again.
So I figured out that it might be useful to share my thoughts with those who didn’t have a chance to get to this conference so far. Especially as they extend it to San Francisco.
First what is it? It is arguably the biggest conference focused on product management in this part of the world (Europe). This year, there were 1,200 people at the conference. About 300 more compared to the last year. During the two days you get a chance to attend workshops and watch the general sessions (9 sessions). I can not speak about the workshops as I didn’t attend any.
I liked the conference. A lot. But then again liking a conference is like being a fan of a football club or loving salmon clothes: it’s something that it is not that easy to argument at least not in a scientific way. Continue reading
If you are not on the side that decides to unbundle your successful product (think of Facebook for example) the process can potentially makes you feel rather negative emotions.*
If your product is more like a modern bathroom then you should definitely think twice before deciding to go for unbundling. Stop and think about this: would you really want to have the toilet, sink, and shower in three different rooms?
Think about your experience each morning during the workdays as you, half awake, move from room to room to piss, wash your hands and teeth, take a shower, comb your hair or shave or put the make-up (or doing all of these) to get ready for work. I am not sure how much would you put with it having an alternative.
While moving from your home to another one is a slow process and costly, dropping an application and moving to the competition is not that slow nor costly for most users. You could lose some business and karma.**
* Facebook move to pull the Chat feature outside the native app or Foursquare moving outside the checkin feature have alienated some users. Unfortunately, I don’t have any stats to prove my point so feel free to disagree with me. Don’t forget about the bathroom though.
** Unless you are Facebook and users can only go to Google+. Which they wouldn’t. So you can do whatever you want to do to them. And yet they will keep smiling from thousands of selfies.
Picture from https://www.flickr.com/photos/kerryanndame/6036403010/in/album-72157629262974651/.