In my nine to five job, as a Product Owner, I’m responsible for working on projects to enhance Isentia’s Mediaportal website and it involves liaising with stakeholders, IT teams and developers, in order to keep improving our website as a product for our clients. In 2017 I was blessed with the news that I was expecting a baby boy, due in November.
In October I started my parental leave. That sweet time in a parent’s life where they can take time off work, and enjoy nurturing their offspring without the pressure of work. Right? Wrong! You do not leave work, you have a new employer, and they want you to work 24/7, for no money, with no instruction on what to do. For my own experience as a first time parent, I soon noticed some uncanny similarities that my employer, the baby, was also very much like a product that I owned.
Baby as a product
Developed in 2017, the first iteration of the child aka newborn 1.0, was a beautiful thing to behold. The magic of human code, DNA, and the ability for it to create an entirely new human is truly a miracle. However no product is ever truly complete, so work began to continue developing my perfect bundle of joy into an ever improving bundle of cells.
Boy, does this take on a whole new meaning. There is no better way to learn how to be agile than working out how to juggle feeding a baby, getting to an appointment, packing the car, changing the nappy, re-changing the nappy then the whole outfit after an accident, and then putting on washing before the baby runs out of clothes and has to be dressed in newspaper. On top of all that you need to be remembering to do… ah what was it you were meant to remember?
Speaking of forgetting things, number one priority is your product, the baby. And then you need to prioritise everything relating to them. And then somewhere down the list you may have some priorities of your own, like taking your first shower in a week. If you need to work out what’s important then may I suggest – will it keep the baby happy and healthy? Then the answer is yes, do it, and in six weeks you’ll get your first smile from them.
You are scrum master as well as product owner, and you don’t have a daily stand-up to discuss progress, you have a seemingly hourly review to ensure there are no blockers. Blockers can include being hungry, having wind, having a dirty nappy, being too hot, being too cold, being too stimulated or not stimulated enough. Sometimes after reviewing all possible blockers, you run out, and you’re not sure why your product is not working at all so it needs to go to the developers.
Your developers are your network of assistants: the midwife, your partner, your family, your friends, the doctor, the helpline, the forum of parents also up at 2am on Facebook, and quite often the all mighty Google. Sometimes the answer to improving your product is with them. Sometimes there is no answer, and you just need to wait for the product to improve by itself.
If you’re a parent – I hope your product is going well, it’s improving, and it continues to reward you in new and surprising ways. If you’re not a parent, enjoy being your own person, and if you see a new mum or dad slumped over their desk or looking like they’ve aged 40 years in 4 weeks… buy them a coffee.
Petrina Harper, Product Owner - Isentia
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