The importance of saying “no”. Proper Product Management.

When your lovely girlfriend wakes up on Monday morning and she says, “hun, how about a nice bite together before going to work?” and you can’t. You realized you overslept, and you are late.

When you pass by Magnolia in the west village, and the smell of an amazing chocolate cupcake crawls into your body, your brain goes ‘Little Shop Of Horrors’ on you, saying “feeeeed me”.  But you know you can’t have cupcake everyday on the way to the office, you just can’t. You won’t.

When you buy the Droid2 of Motorola, thinking it has the fastest motherboard among the Androids and it ends up being the slowest inconvenient piece of hardware  you’ve ever used, and all you want to do is going back and buy another mobile phone – you don’t.  You can’t spend $600 every other month on the latest in computers or mobile phones.

I can go on.

You got the point.

You didn’t do it. You could. But you didn’t.

Those examples might be radical. In general, saying “no” is against our nature.

If it’s possible, why not do it.

If it’s accessible, why not reach out to it.

If it’s seen elsewhere, why not copy it.

If it might be relevant, why not develop it.

If you were a proper product manager, would you prioritize it.

So this is your job. One of the more interesting and challenging jobs out there. You are the gatekeeper, the one on the fence, the secret keeper, you know it – and the question is what do you do about it.  You product manage it.

Product Management is quite amazing. Most people will do a mediocre job at it, thinking they could easily do it. Here is what a good product manager looks like:

(1) I think good product managers’ background is some type of engineering. I think that being able to build things yourself gives you an essential tool to later prioritize the things need to be built by others, and explain in details why.

(2) I think that product managers are quintessential multifaceted communicators. CPM/CPA/CPV – they know it, Java/DotNet/OpenSource/Ruby-On-Rails – they know how to explain it. They are good listeners, and good at explaining the higher positioning. They understand the ups and downs, and are good at balancing, prioritizing and then — communicating.

(3) They are  not passionate people. (NOT) sad but true. I think passion is a great tool when you’re the guy with the vision, but aside from that, on the day to day analysis and operation, passion is noise and dangerous. Everything seems important and critical. Not because you don’t care, because you are in love with it.Dangerous.

(4) Ok with failing. It’s hard to cut an argument, and decide what is the proper direction if you’re not ok with failing. You could fail, and people need leadership. Remember, a leader in many occasions is just the current guy saying where we all need to go. Still, he was needed.

(5) Good pros/cons type of people. Most things cannot and shouldn’t be described with superlatives. “the best”, “the slowest”, “fastest”, “highest”, “cheapest”, “the best”, “the best”, “the best”. Good product managers are balanced people. Things coming on their plate are evaluated, analyzed, and presented. Most things are not the best. They are balanced.

I envy good product managers. Sense of analysis, balance and communication that are rare to find. Think about the last time you gave someone a real “no”, think if you have it in you, deprioritize a hyped feature, communicate a change, staying focused… can you do it?

It’s important to be able to say “no”. That is to be a proper product management.


p.s: how many times did you think while reading this post — “why is the picture at the beginning says Donna Martin Graduates“.  I dare you to comment it.

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