After about a year of working with developers, a designer and a community manager to build Enty products, I started feeling pretty good about myself. After all, I started out with no idea about how apps or algorithms, and here I was with both. I even had a happy team. Go me!
So I decided that we should all do a review of our progress and team practices. Give me feedback, I said! Don't hold your fire, I encouraged.
Well. Ahem. They didn't.
The result - I wanted to crawl under my bed and quietly drown in my tears, surrounded by pizza crumbs and Twix wrappers.
The problem that everyone, EVERYONE, told me was that they didn't really understand what we were trying to achieve. We were all working hard, producing new features and pushing out new releases, but my team saw no direction. The chaos was further exacerbated by the total lack of documentation, which meant we created new things pretty much at random. Everyone was frustrated.
I realised I had a full blown rebellion on my hands, and unlike a medieval warlord, I couldn't send in the heavies.
I knew something had to be done and that I was the core of the problem. I also no idea how to fix it. Eventually, our CTO told me that the solution was a product manager. If we couldn't afford one, he said I would have to learn to do it myself.
I had no idea what a product manager was, but I knew someone from my business school who had that funny title. That person was Rags Vadali, who now works in product at Facebook.
I begged Rags to enlighten me and teach me what he does. That ended up in a series of free lunches at Facebook (thanks Mark!), and eventually, a proper process and a happier team. Rags previously worked at Google and at various startups, so he knows how product management differs at all levels. He also has the rigour of a Chicago Booth MBA.
Rags is not just my product guru. He also regularly speaks about product management to business school audiences to and the press.
He literally saved me from disaster (and perhaps decapitation).
Tomorrow, Rags will be speaking at a live webinar for Tech for Non-Techies. I hope you join me to ask him your questions.
When: Wednesday 22 April, 1 pm EST / 6 pm London
He is one of the few people I know who can explain this tech without jargon.