OSU The Horseshoe

I think my career as an engineer has had a mostly limited vision of success, by that I mean, if the customer hated what I produced that was never my fault, the only way it could possibly be my direct issue was if there was a very real failure, whether functional or performance. Otherwise the decision makers upstream of me were always to blame.

In this regard I believe my engineering position was akin to a running back in Football. When my name was called I would execute the play with as much precision and purpose as possible, I did not have to concern myself with the proceeding play, I would not have to worry about the defensive schemes. I have a narrow focus, get as many yards as I can, and do not fumble the ball.

I am finding my work as Program Manager at Microsoft to be so much broader, more like baseball than football.

Win some lose more

One of the ideas that has always struck me as odd about baseball is that a good batter misses 70% of the time. In fact no batter has had over a .400 average since 1941, the hall of famer Ty Cobb has the highest lifetime hitting average at .3664. In baseball failure is the most consistent part of the game.

In the context of a Program Manager you are constantly creating experiments and asking questions that validate, and more often, invalidate an idea or hypothesis. This constant churn of invalidated ideas can feel like failure but it is the reality of genuine experimentation that precedes and informs the engineering cycle. Cultivating good ideas in a PM teams might require you to sift through a lot of mediocre or poor ideas but understanding what does not work is an important part of the process.