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Product Management

Working With Software Developers (9 Tips for Product Managers)

Some tips for Product Managers working with software developers:

  1. They’re masters of coherence in arguments, information, and statements. Expect to be called out (bluntly) on something … and for them to be right.
  2. Don’t assume silence means a lack of interest. Sadly, introverts get chased out of the “business world”. In the swdev team world, extroverts AND introverts thrive (cool huh?). Many ofmy dev friends choose to chew on a thought for a long time before interjecting.
  3. Imagine a world where your every keystroke is (basically) measured, scrutinized, Jira-ed, and reviewed. And ****ing up means the whole app can go down (or worse). Compare that to your world, where you can often dismiss something with a hand wavy “that’s a learning!”
  4. They care about impact …. but are BUSY. So don’t assume all they want to do is sit with their Bose noise-canceling headphones on tapping away at their custom modded keyboard. They do that to BLOCK OUT the insanity, so they can have an IMPACT.
  5. Some of my best dev friends will sit doing “nothing” for 2hrs, take a break, play some ping-pong, have some coffee … and then solve the problem in 2 seconds with three lines of code. You should try it sometime when you don’t have back to back meetings 🙂
  6. The test passes, or it doesn’t. It works or it doesn’t. It’s good code, or shitty code (the last person, of course). Compare that to your world of wishy-washy strategy and “I’ll know it when I see it”. Some skepticism is to be expected.
  7. Nothing sucks more than working for six months on something and seeing it fail (even if the org’s success theater says otherwise). It is suuuuper painful. You get to move on. THEY need to maintain the turd. Reflect on that. Kill some features 🙂
  8. I worked with an eng that had a rear-view mirror to see me approaching with a “quick question”. At which point he would instantly put on his headphones (the sign for not now). 5m “quick questions” can take up a whole morning.
  9. Like anything and anyone, it is hard to build trust/respect, and easy to lose it. Keep in mind that issues tend to “flow down”, and developers need to clean up the mess. So cut them some slack if they’re a bit grumpy. Do better. They’ll come around.

That’s it for now. New dad duties prevail. But I’m still finding snippets of time to draw, and write (mostly on Twitter).

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About author

Multiple hat-wearer. Product development nut. I love wrangling complex problems and answering thewhy with qual/quant data.
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