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Passion and product teams

We act as though comfort and luxury were the chief requirements of life, when all that we need to make us really happy is something to be enthusiastic about.—Charles Kingsley, professor, historian and novelist

One of the corporate competencies that no one seems to discuss is passion. We talk about systems and expertise and different departments but passion and purpose rarely make the list.

Yet it is passion that makes people go the extra mile. It’s what makes them stay late and come in on the weekend.

I once developed a scheduling system for services personnel. It was multi-user in a time when most people were doing everything on a standalone computer. I worked hard on it and I was proud of it. To put a new upgrade in place, I waited til everyone had gone home for the day, did a full backup, installed the new system, and had it all back online by the time work started the following day. I worked through the night—and was glad to do it.

Your developers have this same sort of passion for what they build. What they need from product management is a sense of purpose—a passion.

How can product management inspire the team? Vision.

The insights product managers and product owners can provide to the team helps developers understand the people and their problems. That’s why persona profiles are so important. It’s also important to show your team the business side of things: explain how releases align with industry events, and how delivering on schedule results in revenue.

In my first development meeting I was surprised how much the team wanted to know the business of the product: revenue, installations, marketing plans, and business goals.

Sure, product managers need to provide requirements and stories in a prioritized list (see my post on prioritization). This to-do list is the work that needs to be done. Product leaders must also put this list in context to instill purpose in the team.

You’ve presented your business plan to the leadership team. Now present it to your development team. Trust me: they’ll appreciate it.

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