Blast From The Past Post

Project Retrospective

As I go back and view some of the posts I have written on other platforms, I stumbled upon this time .. this was written over 3 years ago, it was in draft mode ever since. I clearly remember this project… It failed (the idea was spot on but we failed at the team work level), but I think its was one of those things that shaped me as a product manager.

I keep telling my kids that sometimes failing is needed so you can learn from it.. If we did that its not a complete lost but if we didn’t well… Huston we have a problem.

Every milestone we achieve in our career is important, including the ones we don’t like to admit .. So now I am owning up to it and embracing it.

Hoping that someone will find those personal lessons learn helpful.

The last couple of weeks I have been reflecting a lot on where I am from a career perspective and what kind of surprises the future holds for me.
In order to do that effectively I feel that it’s critical to look back and see why the Product Manager job seemed so appealing to begin with… When I first looked at the PM role, I thought to myself … Hey this seems like a good place to be right? You are the “CEO” of your product and you have the authority and resources to turn your vision in to product that everyone loves. You meet people in your way and have great brainstorming sessions that challenge your intellect and constantly working on innovations …
Boy was I dreaming!
Back to reality …
One of my first interaction was with a whole lot of not so happy people, which I am sure had every right to be mad at the product “CEO” simply because their needs were not met. As humans we want to be able to satisfy the needs of the other simply because we think that this will grant us the success and instant gratification that we all strive for. Attempting to achieve all the different “wants” and “needs” and requirements over an extended period of time (and lots of long nights, weekends and caffeine consumption that will not shame anyone) I realized that I have missed the one thing that I care about that most — My Team!
I was too busy battling 100 different fronts at the same time, negotiating features, defects and customer escalations that I lost sight of what really matters in order to transform this project info somewhat of a success.
I remember the tipping point like it was yesterday. We were all sitting on an ever lasting conference call (there were tears. literally) battling the MVP, timelines, effort etc. and at some point It hit me right there and than.
We are one team! (But we are not acting like one)
We all have a common goal but we seen to have lost it in translations …
Between the development team that sees all the architecture and technical stuff, Design team that is focusing on the beautiful level and PM who mainly sees the vision and customers, we all lose site of the bigger picture.
So we decided to take a breather to recharge, understand what is going on. We decided to put the guns down for the sake of the project (we take it one project at a time these days and that recharge took a while)… And Voilà!
We started listening to each other, respecting each other and really working together … It came a bit late in the game but as the famous phrase says “Better late than never”. This was one of the great Aha moments that I had experienced in a while.
Here are my retrospective on what went wrong:
We had no trust and respect to each other — we all came with different perception on each other that put us in a disadvantage immediately.
We were afraid to voice our opinions — it’s the constant battle that is called conflict and something you need it to develop ideas. However we need to know “How” to say it.
We were not aligned on the bigger picture — we were all there to ship wonderful products but we lost site of that with all the daily tasks and became one team that is divided into silos.
Done is better than perfect — I try to use this term as much as possible, knowing that it’s ok to make mistakes. You need to think hard and make some tough decisions but It’s ok to ship a smaller release because you know what? There will always be the next release.
After all that… Did we reach a teamwork nirvana? No. Do we have a lot of groundwork to cover? .. Well, will the sun rise tomorrow? Probably.
We all have our breaking point, myself included, when we raise our hands in surrender and get out of the sandbox since we don’t want to play nice anymore. For me, there was someone there that reminded me of the goal and that helped me get back and try to resolve whatever it was.
Making it work is always a personal choice, and a hard one. I see myself being the one to pull back my team and focus on what is important since this is what I expect from others…
Will this process ever be easier? Shorter?
Now that is the million dollar question right there!
** This was my 15 min of my own reflection, now back to work**

Fast forward 3 years — things have gotten easier (I think its just me getting older and more experienced). I would not switch this job for any other …

The Mommy PM.