‘2020 vision’ was the name of lots of vision statements and strategies I worked to in the early 2000s. I’d wager that most of them are now deleted from existence. Or gathering digital dust on long-forgotten network devices. People liked the pun and found the fact that 2020 was so far away appealing. Well, 2020 is now here. A 2020 vision finally means something :) Here’s mine:
- in real life, I’m going to try and be a good dad. My daughter’s due to be born in a couple of days. It’s exciting.
- in work life, I’m going to try and pull together what I’ve learned in the last decade. It’s time for a review and retrospective to see what I can learn.
Being a dad
My daughter’s due to be born soon. Me and my partner are really excited. This is our first child so we’ve been in learning and prep mode for the last few months. We’ve decided to share parental leave straight down the middle, taking 6 months each. My 2020’s going to be about learning to be a dad. I worked in parent advocacy at the beginning of the decade so it’ll be nice to revist that.
This will be the longest I’ve been away from work for a long time. I’ve been working since I was 13, starting out in retail on Saturdays. I took a break for a couple of months in my first term of university. Aside from that, this will be the longest break in my career. It’s going to be weird. But now feels like a good time. My career’s in a good place and I can focus on real life for a change. Shared parental leave is a privilege that I’m grateful for. Me and my partner are looking forward to meeting our daughter :)
Writing a book
I’m still going to think about my career in 2020. Between nappies and coffee I’m going to crave some ‘grown-up’ thinking. ‘2020 vision’ has got me thinking about corporate strategy. And how most of the ones I’ve seen in my career haven’t seemed to connect with the reality of what teams are doing. For all the innovation, vision, and strategies in the world, I’ve found two things to be true:
- our products mirror our organisation chart
- we’re defined by our existing commitments.
I’d like to help product managers in complex organisations with their existing commitments. I’m on version 3 of the handbook for my product management profession. The handbook’s weakness has been guidance for associate product managers. And guidance for product leaders. So it’s been great to work with Jon Foreman at GDS over the last 18 months to improve both of these areas. Simplicity is hard and it’s taken a few tweaks to convey some of the core concepts. Having now tested and improved the handbook for a while, it seems to be in a decent place.
Now feels like the right time to pull together a product management book. I can take my handbook as a starting point and edit it whenever I’m looking for 20-30 minutes of grownup thinking. I also want to do a review and retrospective of the last decade of my career. Real, influential moments of my career will help to bring hard won lessons to life, for myself and for others. I spoke at a conference in November and shared three real stories from the last 10 years. They included challenge and failure, as much as success. I enjoyed preparing for the talk, it helped me to clarify thoughts that’d been swirling around for a while. I’ll return to some pivotal moments in my life as a product manager in the 2010s and see what I can learn from them.
I’m not going to stress about the book. If it happens, it happens. Irrespective, the thinking about the book is appealing to me. Whenever I have the head space and motivation, I’ll do a little bit. And I’ll get out of the house and have coffee with product manager folks every now and again. And pester people who’ve written a book to see what I can learn from them. If that adds up to a book of my own, then great. If it doesn’t, then I’ll be still be returning to work as a better Head of Product once my parental leave comes to an end.
But first, baby
Book takes back seat to baby. Work life is important but real life is more important. I’m not going to be as active on this blog for a while, and won’t be as responsive to Twitter and LinkedIn messages for a while. Unless you’re sending parenting tips :)