Chart your career 'Press Release First' for the New YearJan. 2, 2015
Combining a little bit of the 'write the press release first' product management approach and analyzing the intersections of where you and your current company are going is a great way to start a new year and shape your career longer term.
At the start of every year, I do this thing where I update my resume with falsehoods. I lie, intentionally and boldly: proficient in X; launched Y; led a team and successfully Z'd. I mold it to perfection.
The spacing, superb. The type, crisp. The language, terse. The experience, impressive. I craft it as perfect as an antiquated and dead document can be crafted. And in its perfect state, wrought with lies, I think about what steps I can take in the coming year to make it less fiction and more non-fiction.
A perfect take on the the "write the press release first" method of product management, often credited to Amazon, but focused towards building a career versus a product. The method is essentially a working backwards approach that ensures what you are building can be easily described and matters to your end consumer. It helps make sure you have a north star to focus on during the product building phase guiding you towards the work that is the most valuable.
Ian McAllister, a product leader at Amazon, shared this on Quora:
For new initiatives a product manager typically starts by writing an internal press release announcing the finished product.
Internal press releases are centered around the customer problem, how current solutions (internal or external) fail, and how the new product will blow away existing solutions.
If the benefits listed don't sound very interesting or exciting to customers, then perhaps they're not (and shouldn't be built). Instead, the product manager should keep iterating on the press release until they've come up with benefits that actually sound like benefits. Iterating on a press release is a lot less expensive than iterating on the product itself (and quicker!).
This isn't just for those brushing up on their skills to go hit the job market soon. Like any good strategy it's best to focus on the long play here as well.
Garrick vanBuren recently shared a sketch as part of his "Expand" series, made up of daily messages to inspire you to make improvements in your professional and personal life, that really hits this point well.
"Align where you want to be in 3 years w/ where your business needs to be in 3 years." - Garrick vanBuren via twitter
Take the time early in this new year and spin the tale of who you are in your career and how you got there. Then go make it happen.