As we near the end of the year, I like to reflect on the past year and plan for the next year. I believe it is that reflection that helps me learn from last year and do better in the coming year. I like the quote from Oscar Wilde.
“With age comes wisdom, but sometimes age comes alone.”
We all get a year older, but not everyone gets a year wiser. As a product manager, it’s vital to reflect on your past year, your past release, your past project, or your past day. It’s reflection that helps us to improve and process new data we may have overlooked to lead us toward wisdom. I also like to follow a mental process for my reflection.
Is the outcome as I expected it? Did everything finish in the time I expected? Did my process work for me? Were there any key players that I didn’t include in the planning? What went well? What did not go so well? What strengths did the team exhibit? What weaknesses did the team exhibit? Were there any communication gaps? Who did a great job? Who could have done better? Was there conflict? If so, was it handled appropriately? Did the development process work? Were there unneeded steps in the process? Can those steps be removed?
I have my own personal list that I used for reflection. I have a daily list, a weekly list, and a annual list. I add and delete from the list as appropriate. One of my favorite books of all time was “Thinking for a change” by John Maxwell. Especially chapter 3, “Master the process of Intentional Thinking” where it talks about finding a good place to think, surrounding yourself with other thinkers, and act on your good thoughts. I like to practice the skills of good thinking and this time of year gives me a great opportunity to exercise those skills.
I make notes on my reflective process so I can improve my plan for the coming year. I start out my plan with my goals for the coming year. I typically like to have 3-5 big goals for the next year and go from there. Each of those goals will have at least daily or weekly steps to achieve a particular goal. Breaking down your big goals into smaller steps will help lay out the actions needed to achieve your goals. There are many books about goals but the book that got me going was Think and Grow Rich, by Napoleon Hill. There is so much more to the book, but it puts the value of goals into the big picture.
Most everyone focuses on spending time with friends and family over the Holidays. I certainly believe it’s important to connect with those people who support you, but as a product manager, be sure to also spend time reflecting on the past year and planning for the next.