Missing role: project management
In reflecting on my difficulties both within Snowdrift and in other organizations, I believe I have found clarity on what is missing (spoiler: project management) and what its domains are.
We've toyed with the project management role before, but we either executed poorly, or had the wrong conceptualization. Here is my personal take.
Here's what we do know, and manage well enough:
- Business owners are accountable for keeping the organization's priorities and principles aligned with "customers" and "markets" (these are rough stand-ins whatever terms actually make sense for us. In short, "the outside world").
- Product owners are accountable for shaping the product vision (i.e., features) to align with the priorities of the business owners.
- Technology leads are accountable for reality-checking the visionary idealism of product owners as well as aligning the product implementation with business owners' priorities and principles.
Here's what's missing. Project managers have the following domains:
- documenting priorities and principles
- capturing product vision (features) into centralized locations and standardized formats
- reality-checking changes to priorities, principles, and features: Too fast? Too much?
With a project manager owning these domains, team members are freed from the stress of scattered, changing priorities; frustration from perceived failures of communication; and distrust regarding respect of one's time and energy.