March 25, 2016

On plans and execution

I tend to fall for plans. In product management you can always create beautiful and very detailed projects, with roadmaps, milestones and even use cases. Plans can create such a perfect mirage of the final product that you can believe the project is almost done1.

If I had PM superpowers then smart people coming up with such plans would be my kryptonite. It’s not that I turn into a yes-man, but I recognize that even my pushback tries to inch the plan to a start.

However, I don’t think this is such a terrible problem. In most cases plans are like ideas: they set an objective and imply the assumptions used.

It’s not until the execution that real feedback can occur. Before it’s pure philosophical supposition — usually with more to do with politics than the actual project.

My recommendation is not to avoid plans, but to create them in such a way that they allow the learnings from the actual development to feed back to it.

And enjoy the FUBAR moments along the way. If you had a suspicion that it could happen — it doesn’t mean your plan was broken — it means that you’ve moved on from planning to executing.

  1. Just like countries with extremely detailed constitutions have a bad record of breaking them. I bet your last project that hilariously missed its launch date had an impressive plan.↩︎

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