If we're connected on LinkedIn, then you might have already noticed that I have a new role at Moraware. I'm now the Product Manager (we debated calling the role Product Owner, but Product Manager seems to be more typical, so I'm going with that for now – when I've kicked enough ass, I might change it to Head of Product, but it feels like I should prove myself first).
The reason for the change is simply growth – we've doubled in size since I started with the company (5 to 10 people), and we're able to specialize more. We always need someone to take squishy feature requests and make them unsquishy enough that developers can build them. Our three awesome developers had been doing that work themselves until now. None of them loves it, and it just slows them down. We want our developers coding as much as possible, and that's what they want to be doing, too. Separating the product management activities from programming will make them all more productive.
I actually DO love this work. I've been a programmer myself, so I know what our developers are looking for in a spec and what level of detail they want. My secret weapon is that I know the product and our customers as well as anyone in the world, because I've been supporting it for the last four-and-a-half years. My superpower is combining abstract reasoning with the ability to talk to people, so we're all optimistic that I'm going to be good at this.
That said, I've never done this job before! I have a LOT to learn. Luckily, I love learning, and I'm super excited about doing the work.
Much of the work is specific to our company – figuring out what the development team needs from me and how each developer likes to communicate. Figuring out the right level of documentation and ceremony. Figuring out how to get customer insights from the rest of our team. Figuring out the right rhythm to talk with new and existing customers to learn more about their "customer journey" with our software and the underlying problems that led them to us (Jobs To Be Done anyone?).
While much of the details of these things are specific to our company, I assume the concepts are pretty universal. To learn more about those these, I'm reading a lot (six books in the last couple of months), and next week, I'm attending my first product management conference, Industry.
I'm sure I'll get a lot from the speakers at the conference, but I'm most excited about meeting my peers. I've reached a point where I have questions, and I suspect I'm going to have some really interesting conversations. I can't wait.
I head to Cleveland on Sunday morning. I'm sad that I'll miss Business of Software this year – it's been such a big part of my life – but Industry feels like the right place for me to be. I'll share what I learn soon. Wish me luck!