Leaving well

The Long Road Ahead by Jon Rawlinson (From Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository)

Today has been a bittersweet day for me. It is the last sprint planning day at Benefitfocus. I have been working with two of these teams for three and a half years, and with a third team since early this year. Juggling three backlogs is a ton of work (I don’t recommend trying it), but I’m grateful for the awesome people that I have had the privilege to work with along the way.

One of my primary goals during this transition was that I don’t just leave, but that I “leave well”. I want to leave my teams in a good place so that they can continue to be successful once I am no longer their PO. As hard as it can be to let something go, I think it is also healthy to add a fresh perspective to a team.

Over the last few weeks, I have tried to be very intentional about preparing things for this change. In quite a few cases, I see that being intentional along the way about sharing information and enabling others is making things easier. In other cases, I see that I have a bit more work to do.

I am incredibly grateful for the people who have invested in me as a professional. Benefitfocus has been an awesome company to work for, and a place where I have grown by leaps and bounds. I will always be thankful for my time here, and I am excited to see what’s in store for the all-stars that I have had the privilege to work with.

I started to put together a list of people who have contributed to my growth during my time here. It is extremely humbling. There are literally hundreds of people who have made me better and enabled me to be successful. I hope that I have made a positive impact on their lives like they have made on mine. My goal is to continue that growth to become a leader in my field by fostering healthy cultures within my teams and my organizations.

If any of you are reading this, thank you for who you are and what you do!

Lessons Learned

Transitions like this are a good time to reflect. Three things have been jumping out to me a lot lately, and that I plan to apply diligently for the rest of my career.

  1. Margin is incredibly valuable. Learn to say no (but if you say yes, keep your word). Don’t move on to the next thing just because you can. Create space so that builders can see the impact of what they build. Give teams the time to reset before building more.
  2. The faster you can prototype, the faster you can validate you are on the right track. It allows you to collect a tremendous amount of insight without committing all of the resources required to build something. It doesn’t take an engineer or a designer to create a useful prototype (although those skills certainly help).
  3. Building new features is not product management. Product management is about delivering outcomes. Actual construction is crucial, but it must coincide with an intentional effort to deliver and monitor value provided to the user and to the organization. Product adoption is a crucial part of the product management process and everyone on the team should be aware of how (and if) their product is being used.

Note: I also posted this on LinkedIn, so feel free to head over there and recommend it.