Imposter syndrome in PMs and introspections

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Today, I want to write about a conversation that I had with a colleague recently. As PMs in a large company, there are times, when execution takes front-seat (and there are other times, when innovation takes precedence). During these war-time PM periods where one needs to focus on execution, it is very common to hit a form of imposter syndrome, where you start questioning yourself – “what value did I add?”

Our conversation led to two levels of introspection that I suggested – 

a) Step back. Rewind. Think about (say) the last month. How many times did you have to make a decision? I bet that half of these decisions were ones that others would have just said – “Its the PMs call”. This is a huge value add. The PM is where the buck stops. Judgement calls are made by PMs. We own these decisions and stick by them (until of course, in some cases, we are proven wrong). 

b) The secondary thought that occurs when you do the above exercise is – “If not me, anyone could have made these calls.” That is where I vehemently disagree. These judgement calls / decisions are a by-product of days/months of being steeped into the product aspects of what we are working on. It is not a function that another dev can write (sure the quality of devs can churn different quality of code, but immaterial, transferable). The PM is the only person who has actually spoken to someone in Marketing, all stakeholders, Leadership, devs, the vendor tester, the design team. yes, all of them – and that is what gives you the unique context and the ability to make these (hopefully well-rounded) judgement calls. 

I have been through these phases, and I am grateful that I have had folks help me through them. I thought I would share this, just in the case, there are others out there, who face this situation.