Surprises Are Part Of A Product Manager’s Day

Well, You can never get away with surprises as a product manager. You start on a route with an assumption that was being (in the process) confirmed by your operations partner or business stakeholder and suddenly boom, they retract.

This is exactly what happened today with me. I am building a platform product that will help Wayfair perform leg-agnostic deliveries. Just to bring everyone on the same page, as a carrier first step is to be able to print a label and a barcode on the label that contains a ton of information like movement plan and tracking info. As part of leg-agnostic work, I was building a product that would enable Wayfair to ingest from and eject to any carrier to complete the delivery.

The big assumption was around the label generation process which we had confirmed with operations was to be handled by suppliers. Operations confirmed they will get this assumption sorted out but it’s fair to move ahead with this assumption and build the product around it. We went ahead and today Operations confirmed that assumption is no longer valid. The entire product discovery and tech discovery that we initiated was tossed out of the window.

Some tough conversations, some tough decisions, and a failed effort marked the day. I will have a tough conversation with my engineering team tomorrow where they will have tons of questions about why did we not confirm the assumption 100% before. And you can’t blame them, they are right?

I knew there was a risk as the assumption was not completely validated. I guess I was just not prepared for the shock that it brought. I will be honest, I was a bit annoyed and kind of pissed for being a little aggressive to move ahead.

However, when I look at the bright side, we were still in discovery and had not committed engineers to build the solution. We did waste some hours both on the product and engineering side doing discovery but we did get news on time to pause and rethink our next steps.


Nikhil Varshney

Nikhil Varshney is a product manager by profession and technologist by nature. Through this blog he wants to showcase disruption in the technology world. The idea is to break the concept into simple layman words to help everyone understand the basics