Ever felt like you are stuck in a project? When it feels like the customers or stakeholders or team members just can’t agree on which feature to prioritize, or what functionality is feasible, or how much time and resources can be made available? Not fun – right?
Unfortunately, my project is at this juncture of the process right now. We – that is really the people above me, me being a consultant in the discussions – need to decide what to work on next and how to divide the potential work that’s there in order to be able to properly budget and staff for the next stage. Obviously, this discussion needs to take place for every project, and it’s a very important one, unfortunately, it is rarely a quick conversation where everyone sees eye-to-eye. More often than not, there are conflicting opinions, agendas and priorities, which means a quick meeting to determine a draft plan can turn into a lengthy debate about the future of the product.
I am exaggerating of course! The meetings don’t really get out of hand like that, it just feels that way to me sometimes. Mainly due to the fact that I am the “outsider” in those meetings who normally wouldn’t even be included, was it not for the fact that my team has been working on defining some of the features that we might tackle next. From my vantage point, if I was completely and utterly selfish here, these meetings are stalling my work, because until I know what the direction and priorities for the next features are, me and my team are stuck. Yes, maybe we could continue some of our analysis work, but that would mean that we might end up doing work that will be redundant tomorrow. Or maybe not tomorrow, but next week…
Like I said, not a fun situation to be in. On the other hand though, being able to sit in these meetings, being able to see the estimations and understand the decision-making process is actually really cool. One of the things I found difficult when first starting out as a product owner was understanding why we actually chose the features we built, or rather why we chose one feature over another, given that all of them are on the to-do list because there is a user need for them. While I don’t think there is actually a clean and simple answer to that question, I do think that I now understand a few more pieces of the puzzle that determine what makes it “in”.
So, rather than being annoyed at too many meetings or frustrated with being stuck in my own personal progress, I decided will use this opportunity to learn. I will provide my feedback and put my knowledge on the table, I will observe and listen and contribute to the process as best as I know how.
I will keep smiling and stay positive! 🙂