I love re-inventing the wheel

For example when starting new projects as PM. I usually restart my tracking of all the moving pieces with a blank wiki page and spreadsheet. 
In theory I could use tools on the market that help manager features, teams, requirements, goals, experiments, …

Without buying anything outside, I could re-use my own work as template.

But none of this offer the pure benefit of thinking. Asking the right questions is much more important than getting a pretty ready made gantt.

Questions like:

  • What are we building?
  • How do I want to represent it? What does success look like?
  • What should we track? How?
  • Who needs to read this doc? What are the levels of information needed.

On my last growth oriented project, I built a first tab to track what we were building. Then I needed a higher level, so I built a new tab with only weeks and not days. Later on I needed to store the results of AB tests.

As I added clutter, I stopped synchronizing my tabs. Some of them inherited the prefix “(Deprecated)”. And I knew I was still looking for the right way, for that particular project, that audience, under those circumstances.

Some day I’ll choose a tool that suits me. When I do, I will know what I want and how I want to use it. No the other way around.

It is the same in any endeavour: architecture, writing music, programming, writing fiction, … 

Build your own tool and template in your mind only. Then manually scale up as the project goes along. And keep trimming, keep going back to the essential.

On collaborations you may not have the choice of starting from scratch your follow up and documentation though. 

But most importantly on collaborations: you need to get feedback about what you write and measure and how you present it. You are rarely alone.

Nowadays spreadsheets can show you what other users are doing live. Use that knowledge to observe when people concentrate their attention. 

For my current project, in the morning, the spreadsheet was empty. No one connected. Then during a retrospective, without explicitly telling it, the team mentioned the lack of vision and clear roadmap. For me it was already there! but it was too complex.

As soon as I simplified, started from scratch the tracking (with the same content in the end), I saw a spike of usage in the spreadsheet. I saw engineers following each line while we where doing the scrum on Slack (ha yes, because of the Corona Virus in Korea these days, lots of us a remote, and that’s a great way to realize a company limit when it comes to remote-ish work)

Author: Jean-Baptiste Rieu

Trained software engineer and now product manager. Living in South-Korea, working on post-purchase experience @Coupang, the first e-commerce company here. Blogging mostly to practice writing, and to engage with others on life in Korea, products, engineering, books and anything worth geeking about.