My background is relatively versatile. I've been a technical architect for some time now, and I’ve logged a number of years in project management and leadership. I also spent years working as a technology consultant, played a few hands at a B2C app in the personal health space, and was successful with my own B2B SaaS company aimed at transforming the K-12 educational experience. I have always considered it important and invaluable to diversify my professional experiences and strengthen my proficiency in all corners of the industry.
Because I wanted to deepen my experience in digital marketing, I started working with a Silicon Valley startup solving a major problem for digital marketers in the B2B SaaS space. I was in charge of the product and tasked with helping the CEO validate product-market fit. The startup was laser-focused on driving revenue for their clients. Their expertise helped marketing teams optimize the customer journey and drive revenue lift. "Test everything" was the main credo, and I loved it.
At a certain point there was pressure to increase velocity in order to deliver for early adopters waiting in the wings. With heightened expectations placed on the product team, I noticed an interesting trend develop in my exchanges with the CEO. On more than one occasion he hinted that he’d prefer more structured sprint planning – a noticeably more hands-on approach than I’d come to expect. I found myself wondering about the reasons for this shift in dynamic, when normally he would have just trusted that I was getting things done right and on time. Then it dawned on me. What he actually wanted was the peace of mind that comes with knowing we had a reliable structure in place and good communication habits within our team. It's this peace of mind that we as managers are all chasing – tangible evidence assuring us that our team can and will deliver.
It all comes down to trust. If I didn’t deliver a quality minimal viable product quickly, then all the work that went into lining up those early adopters would have been at risk. It was imperative that my boss trusted I was accomplishing that task – but I was in Canada, and he was in California. He couldn't exactly look over my shoulder occasionally to find reassurance. He could only rely on the information he received from our daily check-ins and the occasional ping on Slack. His request for more structure wasn’t an attempt to micromanage, but a calculated effort to minimize risk by making sure that I had an effective and well-controlled communication plan in place for my team. That knowledge afforded him peace of mind that the right processes were being followed and that team members were working efficiently.
Remote work opens the doors to a wealth of positive potential, but also a handful of new challenges. For all its advantages, it can also be scary for managers at times. As with any successful business at crunch time, it’s more important than ever to ensure that every box is being checked. Missing on a sprint at critical junctures can mean failure, so it's expected that those in charge will still want reassurance that the right communication protocols have been established and that work is getting done. Managers at every level have always needed and will continue to need peace of mind.