What Parenting Could Teach You About Product Mangement

Being a parent and a product manager are pretty much the same job.  Just replace diapers for defects and you've pretty much got it, right?

1. You Don't Know What the F*** You're Getting Into

It's a truism that parents with older kids love to tell newly pregnant couples and those couples absolutely despise hearing.

You'll have read all of the books/blogs on the subject, you'll have been a participant in the process for most of your life and kept detailed mental notes about how it could be done better; but nothing can really prepare you for what it actually is.

The anguish and despair when events conspire to destroy your best laid plans and the pure unadulterated bliss of getting it right.  They fall right off the ends of the spectrum of experience that can be described in words.

And it's probably for the best that you can't comprehend it beforehand.  If it were possible to  objectively weigh all the ups and downs and risks, rational people might decide never to undertake it.  And it must be undertaken and those that do very rarely regret it after.

2. You Cannot Fail, But Will Endlessly Fail

The stakes are incredibly high.  Real lives are in your hands.  One bad decision could be catastrophic.  And yet, time marches on, and you'll be confronted by a never ending stream of decisions.  You can fail just as miserably by failing to act as by acting wrongly, so you make the best decisions you can and inevitably some of those decisions are wrong.

Any parent who has cleaned poop out of a car knows this intuitively.

But take heart.  Trust that you will make many more good decisions than bad and when you make a stinker, clean it up, learn a lesson and move on.

3. Creating Self-Sufficiency is the Goal

One thing you learn as a parent is that it's far better to teach your child that it's dangerous to cross the street, then to arrange to always be there to hold their hand.  Of course, the balance of this changes with time:  at the beginning you must be constantly vigilant, but as time wears on, you must arm and prepare them to make their own way.

Fortunately, children and product teams are much smarter than their parents and product managers give them credit for.  Let communication and trust be your watchwords.