Original post. I find it interesting how deep knowledge about something may be considered a disadvantage. I finally consumed Risto Siilasmaa’s book ”Paranoidi optimisti” during the past summer. I found it interesting, honest, and surprisingly open.
One of the underlying themes was how the top management at Nokia was unaware of the status of their technological efforts and how the culture was such that this was even praised since the top management was supposed to focus on more strategic topics.
There’s a huge contrast here if you compare it to 2000’s Apple where executives were extremely hands-on. One of my favourite Twitter accounts ”Internal Tech Emails” shared a message earlier this year that reveals how Steve Jobs made the decision of the topic of launching an app store after the first generation iPhone had famously shipped without one. In October he wrote a one-line email saying sure, let’s do it as long as we ship it in January.
✨ Launch in just 3 months!
✨ No meeting, just a one-liner email! (Which was a reply to an email that was beautifully to the point, yet analytical,)
Another story tells how he and the software genius Scott Forstall tweaked the UI copy for an early App Store dialog. I won’t spoil the punchline, you should read it yourself. Ok, someone might say it’s petty micromanagement but you could also say it demonstrates ownership and care.
This goes both ways: I have sometimes felt that the fact that I know a lot about UX design has made me less credible to discuss more strategic design topics. Even more so, I see this happening to software developers even if they are typically the smartest people in the room. All too often, business data is guarded like a state secret and the dev team is expected to keep their heads down and follow the backlog.
Heh, maybe this got a bit ranty. My bottom line: as a manager one obviously needs to prioritise but it’s never a merit that you don’t know something. And even more importantly: the better the team knows the business goals, the better they can come up with smart ideas to reach them.