With today’s opening of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, it seemed appropriate to rally these six quotes from the Star Wars saga as inspirational reminders for product managers in galaxies near and far.
NEVER TELL ME THE ODDS!
Han Solo, The Empire Strikes Back
Product managers (and their partner engineering teams) often face large-scale challenges. Strategic objectives, multiple priorities, technical limitations and aggressive goals. You won’t be a great product manager if you look at the wall ahead and retreat. Lead through optimistic realism and you’ll be able to succeed against even the thickest of asteroid fields.
YOUR FOCUS DETERMINES YOUR REALITY
Qui-Gon Jinn, The Phantom Menace
If you want to deliver a market-leading product, stay focused on the market and your customers. Avoid the distraction of requests that don’t solve actual customer problems or that are simply misguided opinions from internal colleagues (yes, even your executives).
I FIND YOUR LACK OF FAITH DISTURBING
Darth Vader, A New Hope
You will invariably encounter naysayers; especially if you are tackling a challenge that is large in scope or innovative in nature. Since you may not have the full power of the dark side of the force to stop negative opinions in their tracks, use data. Who can argue with the latest sales bookings, client feedback scores, or conversion rates? Build a story around the data and you can readily dispel those that don’t follow the Pragmatic Institute rule on opinions. Of course, make sure you understand the data before throwing it back out to others …
STAY ON TARGET
Gold Five, Battle of Yavin, A New Hope
I liken this quote from the attack run on the first Death Star to setting small goals that lead to big outcomes for your product or your partner engineering teams. For example, set smaller milestones to show your teams’ progress towards your main goal over time, or break epics into smaller mini-epics for your engineering teams easily swarm and complete.
DO OR DO NOT. THERE IS NO TRY.
Yoda, The Empire Strikes Back
I’d be remiss if I didn’t include wisdom from the greenest Jedi master of all. Innovative teams believe wholeheartedly in their ability to create something new. It’s a mental game. Find a way to believe in what you’re doing so fervently you naturally share that enthusiasm with your teams. What if the challenge is too big? Yoda tells us that size matters not: just like a user story, break the challenge down into milestones around which you and your team can rally.
MAY THE FORCE BE WITH YOU
Lots of characters, in pretty much every film
As you head into your next sprint, or ceremony, or pitch, just the new year itself, feel the force around you. Create the force, too, by supporting your teams, aligning with humble leaders, and creating team dynamics to get the job done while taking care of each other. That’s what binds us together, after all.
Brian Craft is an enterprise SaaS product manager and co-founder of ProductCamp Cincinnati. He’s passionate where the analytical and the creative converge.
By Brian Craft