Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Do you know what you are doing?

I am sure I am not alone in saying at what time or another I "thought" I knew what I was doing. How wrong can one be?

Famous last words from children, right before they fall, skin their knee or knock out a tooth is "I know what I'm Doing".

Evidently some of us never learn from childhood to correct this mantra.

In life there are few who truly know what they are doing. I don't think many of us from a young age said we wanted to be Lotus Developers or Administrators, although I am sure for some of us, "something" technical and computers was on our mind.

So the same could be said about Product Managers. They do know what they are doing, at a given moment, but the future is not so clear. One could argue Microsoft was stuck on this mantra for a while, some say they still are. Maybe IBM also subscribed to this mantra, and still does for some parts, but there are obvious steps forward which no one expected from IBM in the areas of social media/networking and collaboration at an unprecedented level.

Does Google follow this mantra? Well they proclaim "do no evil" although that has been under debate by some. Does Google know what they are doing? Are they changing our world for the better? Is this just a side step in progress for the "next big thing". Whatever that is.

When you are in management, most of your staff looks up to you for encouragement, support and occasionally wisdom. How often do you admit you just don't know something? Or you know what you are doing, only to see it come back to haunt you?

Presidents, Prime Ministers and other governmental leaders expect us to believe them when they say they know what they are doing, personally I doubt it.

As Star trek said "To Boldly Go Where No Man Has Gone Before" sums it up usually for many people and they easily get off track. But to lead one must accept that not only does one not know what they are doing always but one must accept that as a reality. To do otherwise leads to failure.

So if your engineers, Business Partner or sales people say they know what they are doing, you may want to engage them in some conversation and make sure you know what they think they are doing.


  1. I had a manager once who would often say "Remember - I'm an operations guy - I don't understand this stuff." And ask us to explain a concept, put something in laymans terms, or even sometimes say "Ok - as long as you know what you're doing." Sometimes, he knew a lot more than he was giving himself credit for, but that made me respect him for not faking it. And when he took our word for it, we felt respected as well.

  2. Maria,
    Sounds you like you had a great boss, rare.
    It makes a difference when people are upfront about every doesn't it?