Becoming A Product Owner: The Importance of Optimism and Being an Owner
DoorDash Product VP On Becoming A Product Owner (Part 3)
Plans create Optimism
When we moved into the house, we had a vision for what it would look like over time. Soon we slowly started filling the house up. At some point, plans did not go as expected. For instance, an item could be too expensive. Regardless of the setback, be optimistic and always have a plan made.
As a PM, people are going to look at you when something doesn’t work. They’ll look to you because of the knowledge you have. The plan doesn’t have to be super detailed, but you have to have an idea of how to fix it. Furthermore, if you have a plan then you have optimism. This is where you have to weave the dream, but you say with the constraints I have today this is what we can do.
How to Choose Optimism
- Always have a plan: If you don’t then spend some time to make one.
- Learn to inspire the dream while you budget for today.
Owning What You Have
Being an owner means sticking with what you have bought or work you have done. For example, I bought new furniture for my house. As it turns out we didn’t like the color. However, we still owned the furniture. It’s non-refundable. We’re stuck with it. Eventually, we fell in love with it and now we think it’s actually a feature, not a bug.
The lesson here is to own, not just the effort, but the outcome as well. One of the PM’s I was mentoring came to me about something that didn’t work. I asked him why didn’t it work. He proceeded to say that it didn’t work because of this person and this other person. However, as a product owner, you can’t say you claim the hill when you do well and then blame everybody else when you don’t. Unfortunately with this position, we have all the accountability and none of the ownership. Regardless, product ownership requires you to take responsibility and own the effort.
Finally, think about effort like a PM. For instance, if every engineer’s effort came out of your pocket would you spend money on those five new features? That’s probably one of the most important things we need to think about as product managers. This exercise will really help you prioritize ruthlessly. That’s what a product owner does.
As an owner:
- An Owner thinks about: Details, Consumer, Interaction, Effort, Outcome
- Owns the effort like it’s your money
- It’s your house it’s your outcome