Do Your Feature Tickets Motivate Your Team?

In Start with Why, Simon Sinek states “Leadership requires two things: a vision of the world that does not yet exist and the ability to communicate it.”

As a product manager or product owner you are the leader for your product. How much time do you spend buried in the administration of features and tickets? How much time have you spent clearly communicating vision? Most importantly, do you think these goals pull in opposite directions?

They don't.

Every feature ticket is the opportunity to build on the vision of your product and the opportunity to create better dialog with your solutions teams. The average product manager creates a laundry list of tickets, often with wordy but shallow descriptions of desired functionality using phrases like "this feature would make the product better" or "the business needs this feature."

This happens generally for two reasons.  The first is obvious, product managers are busy and writing tickets is time consuming, so providing boilerplate text seems like a time-saving strategy.  The second is pernicious, product managers can be left out of the feature decision process, which means they don't know why they're adding the feature either. In either case the PM is missing a valuable opportunity.

Your goal as a product manager is to build a great product.  A great product is a collection solutions to the problems faced by your users.  Great solutions always emerge from a larger pool of well considered solutions.  So, how do you come up with a pool of well considered solutions?

You have resources to help you, the developers and UX people you work with every day. However, they can only help if they know why there is a problem. If a feature states that a form with four input fields is required for newsletter sign-up and doesn't state why this is good or what is expected by adding this form to the product, no one can offer any other solutions.

If instead, the request is accompanied by a "why" like, "we want to add a newsletter subscription form as part of an effort to increase newsletter sign-ups by 20% in Q3" then the team can begin to help solution the real goal: newsletter sign-ups.

You may think that this requires extra work or extra explanation, because other options have already been considered and the decision has been made, but nothing requires as much work as dealing with an unmotivated team, and nothing is simpler than letting good team members solve problems for you.