Recently I’ve been setting some professional development objectives, so that I can continue developing skills and adding value to the service I’m working on. And maybe work towards a promotion.
Based on what I’m working on and the context we’re in, I’m thinking it’d be sensible to mix and match skills from two capability profiles…
For context, I’m working in a service redesign team on an end-to-end service. That means we’re looking at how to iterate the minimum viable service and make it more scalable over time.
I’ve been hired as a senior product manager, but I’m not the only product manager working on the service. That’s because a service is everything a user needs to do to achieve a goal, and a service can be made up of products, platforms and enabling services.
So while I don’t tell other product or service managers what to do, I am involved in how their areas knit together. I’m the glue.
I’m sometimes acting a bit more like a lead product manager than a senior, providing that glue, because I’m working with our service owner to give teams direction. And sometimes I’m acting like a senior service designer too, advocating for design and how we use it to meet users’ needs.
So right now, I’m not my job title. It’s a bit of product, a bit of design, and some coaching on agile delivery at scale. But if I’m not my job title, how am I supposed to write my professional development objectives?
How the DDaT skills profile describe strategic ownership/thinking for product managers and service designers caught me out.
Strategic ownership for product managers:
You can develop a long-term vision and objectives. You can take a discerning and disciplined approach to focusing on what is important and most relevant. You can develop the capability of others.
Strategic thinking for service designers:
You can lead the design and implementation of strategy, directing the evaluation of strategies and policies to ensure business requirements are being met.
The definition for service designers is more what I do: designing strategies, ensuring they deliver value and meet requirements. It’s pragmatic. Which is more than developing visions and objectives…although I also do that.
Am I doing two jobs?
I don’t care too much. Pigeonholing people can mean you lose sight of creating valuable outcomes for users. And you ignore the multifaceted experience a person might have. But it’s a trend people have observed, focusing on job titles rather than collaboration.
There’s value in sharing methods too. Service design techniques were useful when I was sole product manager at a startup. And though I knew the concept of rapid prototyping, I wouldn’t have been able to design interfaces at the startup well had I not spent so much time with excellent interaction designers.
So let’s be thankful when we’ve got enough specialists on a team to do a job well. But let’s also realise when you have to fill gaps, when you are not your job title.
Stop talking, start listening.
Inspect the ordinary for shades of delight.
These are the must-haves and key things to remember which help me hit the ground running when starting or joining a product team.