Let’s not pretend that every decision made in the echelons of upper management is deeply infused with wisdom. Sometimes upper management is plain stupid, other times detached from reality, and very often it simply doesn’t have the level of nuanced understanding of your work to comprehend that what they want doesn’t make any sense.
“You can either be a shit funnel or a shit umbrella,” product manager Todd Jackson at Twitter (ex-Gmail) once said. Google has a great description for the role of managers: they should be shit umbrellas for their team. Their most important role is to protect their team from all the shit that comes flying at them (e.g. pointless meetings, unnecessary interruptions and random changes) so they can focus on doing their job.
What he means is that as a product with hundreds of millions of users (and a company with thousands of employees) there’s a lot of stuff constantly being hurled at the team. As a shit umbrella, the product manager protect the developers from getting distracted. It’s not enough to be a “shit funnel” where they would pass some of the junk down to their team, they should fully protect them.
They say that a mother is only as happy as her unhappiest child. In the same way, a manager should only be as satisfied as their least satisfied employee. The key to being a shit umbrella is to care enough about your team that it pains you to see them bombarded with crap. If you genuinely feel that way, taking steps to protect them from it will be a natural reflex.
To get you — as manager, product owner or scrum master — started, we at Weekly, The Innovation Startup created the official SH*T UMBRELLA webshop. Since we know it might get inconvenient when shit hits the fan. You’re not the first, even Leonardo DiCaprio is already a happy customer. Check out our Tumblr to see a glimpse of our worldwide clientele.
Probably the best gift to get your colleagues this holiday season. Head over to our shop, where we ship SH*T UMBRELLAS worldwide. Visit shitumbrella.nl