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“They Just Want To Code (or Design) All Day”

Published: May 30, 2018

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Quick post…

One of the biggest mistakes you can make as a product manager is to assume that the developers (and designers) you work with do not care about impact and outcomes. I have heard PMs say things like:

Well, you know, developers just like to put their headphones on and code.Or

Designers just like to make things pretty, and use the latest tricks“When have you shared actual outcomes with the team?” I’ll ask. Crickets. It is somehow difficult for them to process that individuals can really enjoy going super deep in their craft AND be interested in whether any of it mattered. And maybe a bit of jealously — “I’m in meetings all day, and my neck is on the line, and they’re just making stuff and playing foosball! We’ve got a deadline!”

Part of this, I think, is that when outcomes/impacts are not readily visible there is a tendency to fall back into craft.

I’m not holding my breath on the product. But for right now — while I vest — I’m enjoying learning about these technologies.Or

Well, the design is something that I can control. We never iterate on our MVPs, so I have to work super hard to get it as right as possible off the batt.So what these product managers might be seeing is the result of *not engaging the team. They’re *right, but not for the right reasons. This is common when there’s a lot of accumulated career cynicism…the team may have never experienced real wins, so they don’t even go there.

So…PMs. This is something you can control. Don’t assume people are disinterested or overly craft-obsessed (some are, and that’s OK). Share wins. Share misses (yours especially). Share data. Invite customers into the process. Your team likely cares more than they feel comfortable letting on AND they enjoying doing their thing all day.