I know I’ve said this in my last two blogs, but I love this book. 42 Rules of Project Man­age­ment may be short and sim­ple, but there’s more wis­dom packed between its cov­ers than many books twice, even three times, its size. As I dove­tail expe­ri­ence from my years in dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing with tasks in my new posi­tion at Adobe in prod­uct man­age­ment, books like this one help bring the big pic­ture into focus, teach­ing me new things and remind­ing me of things I know but may have forgotten.

In 42 Rules, I was reminded to “write it down.” I sup­pose today it is more appro­pri­ate to say “doc­u­ment it” or “type it in” but what­ever you call it, it’s all about shar­ing what you know. How many times have you been in a great meet­ing, full of par­tic­i­pa­tion and enthu­si­asm, only to find out no one was writ­ing any­thing down or record­ing the progress?

In my new role as a prod­uct man­age­ment guy, I’ve found myself rolling up my sleeves and act­ing as the scribe again for the first time in many years, doc­u­ment­ing the great thoughts and ideas rolling through inspired con­ver­sa­tions. In this renais­sance of writ­ing, I’ve real­ized that the scribe gets to inter­pret the meet­ing, syn­the­siz­ing the infor­ma­tion, decid­ing fol­low up and pri­or­i­ties. There’s a lot of power in that pen.

As a dig­i­tal mar­keter, and now a prod­uct man­ager, I want to be the defin­i­tive resource for every mind work­ing on a prod­uct. As 42 Rules sees it, it’s my job to doc­u­ment, clar­ify, and deliver the most cur­rent, accu­rate infor­ma­tion avail­able. I agree. If that’s all in my head and not clearly stated in black and white some­where, it’s a sure bet that con­fu­sion will set two things in motion.

One, some peo­ple will fill in the blanks for them­selves in order to com­plete their tasks. They may, or may not, have fol­lowed the lead you’ve designed in your head. Two, other peo­ple will freeze, unsure of how to pro­ceed, with a job to do and an insuf­fi­cient tool­box to do it, shred­ding your time­line and frus­trat­ing eager minds. Give your team the infor­ma­tion they need to per­form their best work. Every­body wins.

As you write things down, it’s also impor­tant to field con­tri­bu­tions from those work­ing on the prod­uct or design­ing the mar­ket­ing plan, embrac­ing the most effec­tive sug­ges­tions by includ­ing them in your doc­u­ments and giv­ing credit where it’s due. This has a dual pur­pose, giv­ing both own­er­ship and under­stand­ing to the teams involved. You are the scribe, but suc­cess is truly a team effort, effected by input from every inte­gral member.

When push comes to shove and pri­or­i­ties require tough choices, if the goal is clear and the process trans­par­ent, every­one will “get” it. They won’t feel sur­prised, slighted, or rejected, but will feel a part of the over­all process, informed and work­ing toward a com­mon end­point. Plus, it’s known that many a VP or CEO occa­sion­ally scroll through com­pany doc­u­ments, review­ing things of inter­est. Your lat­est update just might catch an impor­tant eye, giv­ing you and your team a boost for a job well done.

Here’s the recap on shar­ing what you know:

  • Be deci­sive: Define your audi­ence and decide who needs to know what and when.
  • Be inclu­sive: Spread own­er­ship of doc­u­ments and deci­sions through con­tri­bu­tions from the team.
  • Be vis­i­ble: Dis­trib­ute doc­u­ments within your com­pany by com­mu­ni­cat­ing cur­rent, accu­rate infor­ma­tion about the prod­uct and the mar­ket­ing plan, giv­ing credit where credit is due
  • Be atten­tive: Revise and update doc­u­ments quickly and reg­u­larly to main­tain credibility.

In clos­ing, my last bit of advice gleaned from the book is to be quotable. Go viral within your team, or even your com­pany, by giv­ing peo­ple some­thing to quote that really dri­ves home a point rel­a­tive to your prod­uct. If it’s good, it will stick, and it will become a ral­ly­ing point if the going gets tough. When was the last time some­one quoted you, in per­son, in print, or online? Why not make it today?

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