How Product Management Helps Me Taking Care My Kids

I asked a product guy about the most important thing a product manager must have. He answered "clarity of thought". A broad term indeed. What I understand from his explanation is the ability to think in a structured way to find root cause of problems, think thoroughly of possible solutions, and keep improving the solution or find better solution. He also mentioned how people are often intrigued to throw ideas and solution without really try to understand the problem. Similar advice I got from one of my mentors. It took me some time to reflect if I have ever implemented it and I realized how it may have influenced how I raise my kids.

Kids often behave in ways that surprise you or you don't understand. It is very tempting to judge and try to fix things based on our first assumption. One of recent examples is when my first daughter did not want to go to school.

She used to love school. She enjoys playing with montessori materials, playing with her friends and she is kind of "popular" kid who is always surrounded by her friends. Then I asked why she didn’t want to go to school and the response was weird, “School is scary. The slide is too tall and the swing is too big.” I could not accept the answer. Because she is just a kindergarten student, I didn’t want to force her but I still tried to persuaded her. Then she agreed to go to school.

The night after that, I tried to dig more about her activities and observed her reaction everytime she talked about each activity she did at school. Then I found out that she didn’t like writing part. She said she could not write. The next couple of days she was still reluctant to go to school but I still managed to persuade her. I also asked her teachers about how her days going at school and the teachers said that she was mostly happy at school.

Since she said that she could not write, I asked her to practice writing with me every now and then at home in between our playtime. But I learned something new, she did like writing. Of course, she got tired or easily distracted when practicing but still for her age, she could write.

Until one time when I had a “competition” with her, I timed our writing because I had to do other thing. She got frustrated not because of the timer, in fact she was excited with the idea. But she was sad because I wrote faster than she did. She cried and eventually told me how she hated when her friends finished writing much earlier than she did so they could play while she was still writing. She didn’t like to feel left behind. That was the real problem.

The solution I proposed to the teachers was to accompany her when her friends finish writing or other tasks much faster. I also try to convince her that when the friends play without her, it does not mean that they will leave her alone and do not care about her. Then, she is always happy to go to school. At least until now.

So, the process to find out the root cause, experiment with solutions and keep improving the solution are things I try to do as a Product Manager which help me to deal with the kids.

Oct ‘19