Sugar coating: Sometimes you have to tell your engineers their software SUCKS

You get to a point where you can no longer hold back.  It is like that bad uncle with the Comb-over who is not fooling anyone.  

Your software sucks.  It is a shitty UI, it looks like technicolor vomit erupted on the screen.

It is so unusable, that people prefer to go to the engineering screen to get a better handle on system control.

It crashes. A lot.  It takes out Windows 7, which is hard.

Please don’t hate me for telling you the truth.  Let’s fix this.  

A product management community – just starting

It has been a poorly kept secret that I have had an alter ego, the snarky, White Russian drinking league bowler known as the PM Dude.  Created to be an outlet for some truly bad management from above, and with a high level of snark, it was cathartic.

However, as I have in the past 5 months started a great new job with a kick-ass company, the need for the snarky persona has lessened considerably.  What to do with the PM Dude’s blog?

First, I migrated the most insightful (hey, the Dude did make some good points in the midst of the snark) to my main page: so that you can go back and read the archives.  Look in “The Dude’s Corner”.

Second, I started playing with some forum software.  Actually, as part of a beta test for my hosting provider, I saw this thing called “Vanilla Forums”.  Dove in and love this framework.  Clean, relatively lightweight, and it seems pretty solid.  Spent about a week testing it, and creating a theme (it is STUPID easy to adjust the look and feel by messing with the CSS file(s)).

Now I am ready to launch.  Come on over to and register, start some conversations, and in general hang out and talk product management, product marketing, and anything that tickles the fancy.



Some tasks really can’t be done Agile

Sunday morning here, and I am working on my backlog in preparation for iteration planning tomorrow.

One of the major tasks is that a recent architecture change (that was SUPER for performance) heinously breaks our old model of licensing.  By old, I mean from the early 1990’s.  Way before we had cool stuff like the Internet, and ubiquitous access.  We had bandaged this process along until now.  However, this new change turned it on its head.

We could create a limiting mechanism to replace it with identical functinality (keeping the licensing tied to the server, and emanating from said server), or we could rip this wide open.  Create a special licensing service (either running on the main server, or on its own instance).  This is attractive for many reasons.  As time goes on, the concept of a single server, and a set of components that communicate with it is becoming quaint.  Fast WAN’s, intranets, geographically diverse deployments are becoming standard.  People expect to drop components where their business needs sit.

Cool.  But even the most foundational sub component of this is way too large for a single developer in a single 3 week sprint to accomplish.  And there isn’t really a way for me, as a product owner, to break it down at a high level.  This is going to take our architect probably 6-8 weeks to get built, and with the minimal functional feature set done.

I think we will make this work, but it will make for interesting planning poker tomorrow.

I miss my real blog – rambling about product management, and my sad state.

Summary:  A few weeks ago, a sales engineer was being disruptive in our iteration demo meeting.  I sent a (non appropriate) message to my scrum master to get this individual to stop trying to turn it into a design review.  The message was mistakenly displayed on the main screen (I may have used the acronym STFU for shut the F__k up).

I blogged about it.  About the proper purpose for the meeting, the type of feedback that was appropriate, and outside members are in “listen only” mode.  

The SE whose feeling were hurt found the blog, and I was told to remove it. 

Now I am sad.  My blog was where I shared some of the inside story on my life as a product manager.  14 years and you build a thick skin, a set of rules that work, and a string of successes.  I enjoyed sharing them.  Now.  They are gone.

Product Management is not a career that is great.  It is a thankless job.  It is the bucket that all the other groups dump the shitty tasks that they would prefer to not do.  You are part customer support.  Part sales engineer.  Part sales manager.  Part senior leader.  Part marketing.  I am envious of all the people who stand there and say that they live the Pragmatic Marketing system.  Or the Blackblot system.  I call bullshit.  I have been at many different places, and product management is always a messed up, ill defined, master of all trades role.  

I am tired of it.  I hate it.  I want off the rollercoaster.  This is not fun anymore. Sadly, I happen to be good at product management, so I will probably continue to gravitate to it.  I just want it to end.  

I sit here typing this as I await my 8:45PM update call with our India team.