When PMs need to rally the troops
One of the most counter-intuitive “jobs” of a PM is rallying the troops within the squad. And you’ll have to do more often than not.
At any given moment, the entire squad must know what is The Thing. The one thing that, right now, matters above all others. There is always one thing. Something the team believes has a higher likelihood of impact. Something management has a soft spot for. Something the entire company is “dying” to get. Something that has been carrying over for way too long. Independently of the reason, there is always one thing.
And your job is to rally the troops to guarantee that one thing sees the light of day.
But often, your squad doesn’t understand this. They’re progressing in the sprint. They’re going through priorities, as the column shows. But not getting The Thing out means the squad fails, even if all else is delivered. You need to rally the troops and guarantee everyone knows that nothing else matters except the one thing.
Doing this successful means:
1. Having a clear conversation of "let's drop everything, eliminate non-essential, and focus".
2. Communicating, communicating, communicating. Stakeholders first, managers next. Underpromising, and overdelivering is about managing expectations.
3. Using dailies to surface problems, not just passenger updates. It should not be a surprise for anyone when stuff isn't going well.
4. Raise the tempo. It’s about pace. Pep talk the team. Get them into the war room.
5. Bring the doughnuts, remove the barriers, clean the floor. Make sure your team is fed, with no blockers, and able to run without slipping.
Adapting George Orwell, all prioritised issues are equal, but some prioritised issues are more equal than others.