Monday, March 2, 2009

Fish! Survival Guide for the Product Manager plagued with Anomie

Can you tell that I am a sociologist who took product management up as a hobby and discovered her passion for this field?
If you can't then tell me what Anomie means – Stumped?
I was when I heard this word for the first time at seventeen and after I learnt what the word meant it was one of my favorite words, used time and again…Anomie was a word used by the famous sociologist Emile Durkheim in his book "Suicide" outlining the social (not individual) causes of suicide caused by an absence or dilution of values and a feeling of isolation and purposelessness…I was hooked by the concept (Ok! We are not talking Suicide here…we are talking Anomie). What is one to do when one constantly feels isolated and undervalued at work? As I mentioned in my previous blogs, being a product manager is not easy – there is a lot of responsibility but the reward system needs to be internal…and sometimes it is difficult.
I have been plagued with a faint sense of Anomie the past quarter…the roadmap is ever changing, structure not maintained…running after the next big deal…product strategy sacrificed…it's hard not to feel disillusioned (and yes whiney)…I was home dusting the cabinets…I find cooking (especially the chopping) and dusting very therapeutic. I found this thin little book lost among the big fat volumes of Kotler's Marketing Management and Porter's book on Competition. The name of this book was Fish! A Remarkable Way to Boost Morale and Improve Results. My father had given me this book 7 years back…he loves books in the genre of Who Moved my Cheese? Fish? Chicken Soup for the Soul….you get the picture! I had not read this book or the other ones he had given me...I had categorized them as to read and then it got lost in the maze...
I sat down on the floor and started reading this book and was done in an hour with it…I usually speed read but with this book I went slow…it had only 112 pages. I re-read the book later in the night after everyone had gone to sleep…and I did get something out of it…a lot of food for thought. The book was written as a parable and spoke about a woman disenchanted with her job and how the Pike Place Fish Market helped her reinvigorate her job and her department. The principles in the book were simple enough –

(A) Choose Your Attitude - You can decide if you want the day to be a good one or suck !!!

(B) Play - Have fun at what you do

(C) Make their Day - How do you engage you customers and make their day every day

(D) Be Present - Let whoever you touch in the day feel that you are engaged and involved

I am already feeling some of the Anomie disappearing…there is new vigor and hope that yes I can choose to make a difference, I can play while I work and have fun with it…I will be there for my colleagues and my reports and of course…our customers are our most important asset after our people – so I will personally find ways in which I can make their day…launch exciting services, be more receptive to their needs and requests…so here is my antidote for the Product Manager plagued with Anomie… Fish! With a hot cuppa coffee, tea or chocolate…will make your day and drive the blues away!

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