Micromanage & prosper

Few days ago I've encountered a short quote that had nailed something very important IMHO: "Walt Disney. Steve Jobs. Bill Gates. They were all micromanagers. What is it the...

3 years ago

Latest Post Mixing warsaw.ex by Sebastian Gebski

Few days ago I've encountered a short quote that had nailed something very important IMHO:

"Walt Disney. Steve Jobs. Bill Gates.

They were all micromanagers. What is it the the most successful leaders micromanaged? They micromanaged product, they didn't micromanage people."

Jim Highsmith, Thoughtworks at ParadigmShift 2014

Simply brilliant.

Musk, Bezos, Jobs & their alikes - obsessed with their vision, people who really know what they want & aren't afraid to strive for that, even if it means going down to the tiniest detail (so nothing is left to chance). Undoubtedly they were/are crucial factors in the successes of their companies - most likely ones of the most successful companies on the planet. OTOH they are were/are micromanagers - meticulous, pedantic, fussy, unfit for any compromise - many would say: up to the point of pure assholery.

But this is what works, what truly works: 100% focus on the freaking PRODUCT (service, application, physical thingie - whatever works for you):

In many cases they were taking huge risks, balancing on the edge of total collapse, but still - everything was subordinated to the product vision.

And now, since ...

I've got your attention

... think about yourself, your peers, especially your superior(s). Seriously, just freakin' do it. And ask yourself these questions - only honest answers count:

  1. What really matters (is being spoken about) for your superior in everyday / regular discussions you have with him/her:
  1. How do your superior(s) (& you) measure the outcome of your work?
  1. What's your superiors role in scope definition & work scheduling (incl. prioritisation)? Do they:

OK, what you've got? I've thought so.

Sadly, my own conclusions aren't cheerful either. And how are we supposed to truly succeed, get meaningful outcomes of our everyday's work if we don't give a fuck about the product, because we're not taught so?! Quite the contrary, everyone emphasizes that this business is about smooth getting rid of tasks someone puts in our queue ...

Micromanage product

Solution seems quite clear - start micromanaging today. Micromanaging PRODUCT.

  1. Steer the conversations towards product-focus & outcome-focus. Don't be afraid to notoriously overuse "5 Whys rule"
  2. Start measuring (value) - you can't manage something you can't measure. Plus: nothing is a better motivation for people than realization that their actions have caused specific, measurable improvement for whole company
  3. Technology, process: these are just tools - means to get the product done. They are still important & valid concerns, but not the goals themselves and any changes in them should be dictated by the issues with the product.
  4. Be perceptive, even inquisitive about the product, its current state & its future:

It won't be easy (especially in the beginning) - people will react nervously, some will try to deter you - no surprise, you're trying to undermine their safe & lazy way of doing things. Regardless of how hard you try, some won't accommodate, but this should not stop you if you really want to be successful, truly make a difference -> here or there, for this product or that, today or tomorrow.

Without actual CARING for the product, while continuously lowering your standards, you'll never achieve anything memorable.

Sebastian Gebski

Published 3 years ago


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