Working out loud

I’ve been thinking about this post for a while, as I realised it’s something I’ve really turned a corner on in the last few years of my career.

I’ve always been quite an introvert when it comes to my work, preferring the speed and focus that comes from designing, planning and executing product development with as few trusted colleagues and specialists as it takes to research, deliver and measure value for users as quickly and efficiently as possible.

However, a few years ago, as part of a mentoring session, I learned the mantra:

If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.

This idea really stuck with me as I’d often found it difficult to communicate what I was working on and its importance as widely, frequently and collaboratively as I’ve since found to be vital for effective change.

The unintended consequence of my approach had often been that projects were deprioritised when I couldn’t successfully convey their value, or worse, had been duplicatively attempted by colleagues elsewhere in the organisation, unaware of my team’s isolated ambition to achieve the same outcome.

In the early stages of my career, I had been able to get away with this tendency as those above me played the leadership role I was neglecting to fill, but as I gained more experience myself, l became increasingly aware I had to step out of my comfort zone and embrace this skill if I was to make a meaningful impact in my role.

Since adopting this mantra in my day to day work, five lessons I have learned are:

  1. Every person I work with shares the same goal of wanting to deliver value to customers
  2. Working out loud from the very beginning drives the kind of analysis and perspective that is critical to true success
  3. Achievement is as much defined by the right conversations as it is by the end result
  4. Meaningful collaboration forms key relationships that allow more ambitious outcomes to be reached in future
  5. Shared ownership of success creates a culture of innovation that is necessary for long-term impact

At first, working out loud didn’t come as naturally to me as other aspects of product management. Now, it’s something I’m grateful to have realised and look forward to continuing to develop the skill!

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