The Cranky Product Manager has returned from the land of sweatpants and spit-up (aka maternity leaave), and is now back at Dysfunctosoft three days a week. She’s still sleep deprived and cranky, but is enjoying the conversations with adults and the astonishing luxury of going to the bathroom BY HERSELF IN PEACE without someone having a mammoth conniption fit.
We’ll see how it goes, being a part-time product manager. The Cranky Product Manager is skeptical about the plausibility of such an undertaking. Can product management be done part time? The Cranky Product Manager would love to hear from anyone who has done it successfully, or unsuccessfully for that matter.
Surprisingly, Dysfunctosoft did not fall apart while the Cranky Product Manager was on maternity leave. The place is indeed still standing. However, they did do some really stupid shit.
Example: they pushed out a release with release notes that were a direct export from Bugzilla, and apparently no one bothered to read them before publication.
So what, not a big deal, right?
Reading the release notes is one of those minor details, part of that 80% of cruft that delivers little value to the customer. Product managers should just blow that stuff off, and concentrate on the most meaningful 20% of tasks – the product strategy, the positioning, the user experience, the pricing, etc. – right? Besides, it’s probably someone else’s job to dig through the release notes. Surely, some QA weenie will be delighted to file a separate bug for each and every grammatical error.
Apparently, the Bugzilla export contained the details of each and every person that reported the bug, including their e-mail addresses and personal telephone numbers. And no one checked it or even noticed. Even though reviewing the release notes was on the release checklist.
As you can imagine, the customers are thrilled beyond words that the world now has their cell phone numbers, although they would be more happy if their names and numbers were inscribed on a bathroom wall (“for a good time call…”), because at least spammers don’t usually read bathroom walls. As for the Dysfunctosoft Sales Force, well they are SO psyched that a competitor is now using the release notes as a to-do list of prospects to lure away.
So what can we learn from this parable?
That the main purpose of product management is to have some FREAKIN’ common sense, when no one else seems to have any?
That the seemingly little things, that ones you would assume can be safely ignored, might blow up into big effing messes?
That this is the natural result of the Cranky Product Manager’s control freakishness, and that she obviously created a product team culture where no one else can or will take responsibility for such matters? (Believe the Cranky Product Manager when she says that this is the first thing that occurred to her. )
That the Cranky Product Manager’s new intention of “focusing on just the big things” and letting the small stuff go, so that she can fit her full-time job into a mere three days a week, is doomed to failure?
(Seriously, if any of you have figured out how to do product management with two small kids who get sick a lot, a spouse that work full-time and travels a bit, and no family in the immediate area, please give the Cranky Product Manager some advice.)