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?