Product Manager, SmartyAds LLP

Former CEO of a non-profit project, Former COO of educational courses, skilled engineer with a strong sense of quality and passion for improvement of operations and delivery processes.

Тема доповіді: The Board Of Pain: Solving personal or global crises

  • Every project or product is an Iceberg. The success or total harmony is a top of this iceberg. And it’s a tiny part, actually. Most of us are faced dozens of struggles during our daily routine.
  • The lack of understanding this concept is always painful for every team or a separate employee, whether it’s a regular employee or a manager. This is an obvious fact, though it needs to be sounded once again. And again. And then another five to ten times to understand. This is where the “Board of Pain” borns in minds of team members.
  • The “Board of Pain” — summary of existing problems team/person suffers from. This is a quite nice practice for all the team to define the complex matters and problems team/manager needs to fight with. It works as a tool to define and localize personal and collective issues.
  • To maximize positive effect it’s recommended to divide the issue categories:

    • I can influence on the problem
    • Team or company can influence on the problem
    • It’s hard to influence on this problem
    • DO NOT DO THIS.(Dangerous to influence, can affect business)
  • First category is a personal scope of every team member. The best way to get rid of it is in the questions: “How you’d managed this if you had to?” and “What exactly do we need to provide to you for the problem been solved?”.
    The key for this category is understanding that NO ONE knows better how to make themselves happy than a person itself. It’s important to hear and react to everything that people say during analysis of this issues.
    If the issues are valuable and the resources needed are fair enough — just do it.
  • Second category is the management’s agenda. This is your roadmap and bedtime reading for the next couple of weeks as a manager. You have only two ways: to argue about the specific crysis existence or to face it. The key for this category is in the quote: “Things that are obvious to you, may not be so obvious to others”.
  • Third category, “It’s hard to influence on this problem”, is called a “Compromise time”. Let’s face the truth: the things hard to influence on are hard to influence on. But you can snuff out the problem by making a compromise decisions and maneuvers.
    “We don’t like our CTO” they say, so give them a non-formal leader with the wide range of privileges and let your CTO relax for a while.
    “We’re thinking of revenues tactically, not strategically” they say, get back to them with a vision of your strategical perspective of monetization or revenue generation. It can be pivoted any time. But having it as a wildcard gives your team faith in the future collaboration with company and brief overview of global goals scope that is assigned to them.
  • Fourth category, “DO NOT DO THIS”. If this category has at least a half of an issues quantity of any other, so it’s time to ask yourself “Am I doing it right?”, “Is this company the best(or at least an acceptable) solution for me for the current moment?”, “Would there be other teams/companies where these problems are absent?”
    This is a high-risk category. Most commonly, issues described in it are the causes why your team members can quit. And the best way for manager is to be ready to lose team members whose issues are primarily placed in this category, just lock and load to make this process seamless for the rest of your team. You’ll need to let them go if you’re really wish them well (and want your project not to be dead after a 2 or 3 month struggle).
  • Most common reasons for the Board Of Pain appearance:
    • General burn-outs
    • Lack of communications or bad communications
    • Inability to control the microclimate in large teams
    • Moral terrorists
    • Lack of discipline

    Growth, evolution, revolution crises(Crises model by Larry Greiner)

  • The appearance of the Board Of Pain is a good sign: the team realizes an existing problems and willing to solve them in the shortest way working closely with each other along with management.
    It’s important not to lose a moment and act fast. Don’t let the every team member’s personal Board Of Pain to grow. Don’t wait for it to appear. Ask them constantly:
    “What bothers you?” (the initiation)
    “Can you influence on it?” (1st category)
    “Can the company help you to solve this?”(2nd category)
    “Maybe, we should try this as a beginning of a dialogue?” (3rd category)
    “Are you sure that you’re on the right place for now? What can we do for you to find the acceptable scenario?”(4th category)