Nine Product Management Lessons From The Dojo
[caption id="attachment_11684" align="alignright" width="259"] Are you kidding? a chance to add the Matrix to a blogpost?[/caption]
As I am gearing up for the belt exams next Saturday I couldn’t help to notice the similarities of what we learn in the dojo (it’s where the martial arts are taught) and how we should behave as Product Managers. Here are 9 lessons, straight from the Dojo, ready for your day job:
1.) Some things are worth fighting forIn Judo we practice Randori, which means ground wrestling. You will find that there are some grips that are worth fighting for, but some you should let go in search of a better path to victory. In Product Management, we are the heat shield of the product, constantly between engineering striving for perfection, sales wanting something else, marketing pushing the launch date and management hammering on the PNL. You need to pick your battles, some you deflect, some you unarm, and some you accept, because you are maneuvering yourself so you can make the move that counts. Good product managers are not those who win the most battles, but those who know which ones to win.
2.) Preserve your partnersIt’s fun to send people flying through the air, but the best way to improve yourself is to improve your partner. You are in this journey together, just as in Product Management. Ask yourself the following question today: “whom do I need to train as my successor” and start doing so.
"I was delayed to the airport because of the taxi strike, but saved by the strike of the air traffic controllers"
3.) There is no such thing as fairIt’s a natural reaction if someone changed the rules of the game. We protest, we go on strike, we say it’s not fair, but in a market driven environment, what is fair? Disruption, changing the rules of the game has become the standard (24% of the companies experience it already, 58% expect it, 42% is still in denial) We can go on strike or adapt to it. The difference between Kata and free sparing is that your opponents will not follow a prescribed path. Get over it.
4.) Behavior leads to outcomeI’m heavily debating the semantics with my colleague from South Africa (you know who you are), so it’s probably wording but the grunt of it is: if you want more of something, you should start doing it. Positive brand experiences will drive people to your products; hence one bad product affects all other products of your brand. It’s not easy to change your behavior, whether it is in sport, health, customer interaction or product philosophy, but a different outcome starts with different behaviour.
Where did my product go?
5.) If it’s not working try something differentPart of Saturday’s exams will be what in Jujitsu is called “indirect combinations”. This means that you will be judged on the ability to move from one technique to another when the first one fails. Brute force is also an option, but not one that is likely to succeed, even if you are very strong. Remember Microsoft pouring over a billion marketing dollars in Windows Phone? Brute forcing its position by buying Nokia? Blackberry doing something similar with QNX and only now switching to Android? Indirect combinations is not a lack of perseverance but adaptability to achieve result without brute force and with a higher chance of success.
This is where you tap out