PM Tip #21: Sanity Will Prevail

Update: See the full list of PM Tips.


One of the core jobs of a PM is to hold tight to the vision of the product.  There are a million things that can distract you and set you back.  Features get cut, resources get moved, partners fail to deliver.. the list goes on and on.  Many of these things are within your control and you should do everything you can to make those things come out right.  But let’s face it, there are also a number of things that are outside of your control.  You can chime in, raise the red flag and point out the issues but at some point your authority stops... so what do you do then? 


Well, first it is important to make sure you are indeed leading the right vision.  Have market conditions changed, have customer requirements or technology changed?  Don’t be afraid to revisit even deeply held believes... But if after revisiting you still buy into the vision...  Well, then there are really only two options.  Option one is sulk and say the system screwed you and option 2 to believe that sanity will eventually prevail and continue to work toward that great day.


Option one (the sulking) is toxic to the team... it not only under-minds the area in question, but the whole product.  If you are really it this camp it is time to find a new job. 


Option two (sanity will prevail) may very well seem pointless.  I mean after all these are issues where you have no control over.  However, I am firmly convinced that if enough smart people are following this path and continue to work toward that great day it is bound to happen sooner or later.   Plus, the world is a much better place with hope rather than sulking.  So even if the full vision never happens at least you had a good time working towards it.


David Treadwell, one of the best leaders I have had an opportunity to work with once told me in a case like that that "Sanity Will Prevail".  While there were times I doubted it along the way he ended up being right and his positive attitude around a hard issue was key to making the team work. 


So, next time a “stupid” decision gets made rather than sulking about it, re-examine your case honestly then if you still believe in the vision tell yourself (and others) that sanity will prevail then go work towards making sure it does. 



Comments (6)

  1. Hello Brad,

            Your PM tips are very useful but it would be really nice if you can share about your experiences in interviewing candidates for PM positions. Like what are the the qualities or attributes that you look for? what are the kinds of questions that you like to ask? how do you judge the candidate? and how to approach the interview or problem? This would help clear the mist that PM interviews are very subjective and hard to crack.


    Sriram Ramamurthy.

  2. Brad Abrams says:

    Thanks for your note Sriram…

    I posted on this topic a while back… This is specific for campus, but I think you get the general idea.

  3. Erik Renes says:

    Very good tip. Currently our (academic) team is almost losing all hope for a good ending of this project. Let sanity prevail!

  4. Brad Abrams recently penned a blog: PM Tip #21: Sanity Will Prevail. Wow, if there is one lesson…

  5. Mumtaz says:

    The reasonable man adapts himself to the world. The unreasonable man persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man 😉

    –Bernard Shaw

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