PM Tip #21: Sanity Will Prevail

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 in 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.


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