I read somewhere that product managers spend about 50% of their time 'reacting' to fast moving stimuli of the product development process. Whether that be related to prioritisation, launch dates, disagreements with stakeholders or bugs, when you're in react mode it's easy to succumb to a kind of inertia where you make the decisions and move on, you almost become fatigued and when you're fatigued it's difficult to think about anything other than surviving another day.
When you reflect on your decisions you spot patterns relating to:
- How you made those decisions
- What happened as a result of your decisions
A year ago I began storing important decisions I'd made. Only important ones. I didn't actually go back and review the decisions though and I wish I had.
In hindsight here are some lessons:
1- Keep space for reflecting each day
Just have it in your calendar and let people know so that it becomes integrated into your routine. Having this pattern allows you to be practice the inspect and adapt principle of the agile process so you can uncover your blind spots often and learn faster.
2- Reflecting on decisions might be better done with a close peer who you trust.
In my last role at ZAIZI I had space for a check in each day with my delivery manager. I found talking made it easier for me to reflect by externalising my thinking through talking.
One risk to be aware of though is seeing talking as a means to de-compress, let out the stress building up which isn't the point of reflecting. Which leads me onto the third useful lesson.
3- Ask the right reflection questions
What worked well. What happened. Did I use data to make the decision. Was the decision outcome worth the time I spent making it?
The point of reflection is to get better at making decisions.