Can you only connect the dots looking backward?

Steve Jobs –You can only connect the dots looking backward.

Rear view mirrorAll rear view mirrors say objects shown are bigger than they appear. Is this why Jobs says what he says?  I feel a need to investigate.

I don’t think the Über Visionary is saying never connect the dots. I believe it is all about WHEN you do it.

Product marketing management is a forward moving kind of profession. It’s all about meeting your market’s needs and determining what these needs will be in the future. It’s getting it done, following the plan.

As a PM or PMM, I never spent a great deal of time looking in the rear-view mirror. Oh yes, there were those Status/Update calls and various dashboard reports showing who met deliverables in a timely/effective manner, and yet Job’s quote leaves me with this nagging feeling. Did I miss something in all that?

If Jobs is right, it could mean it’s extremely important to take the time to look back, perform an assessment: What do we NEED to do again (learn=success)? What do we NOT want to do again (learn=not succeed)? And not just at the launch, but often – as an integral part of the process of getting to market successfully.

OK – so when is this rearward review optimal? And how is it done?

I believe to do this, a PM or PMM must take a take a foot from the busy and place it in the quiet. As a product marketing black belt you may practice Creativity unleashedmeditation. Is meditation a way to look back, perform assessments? Maybe not exactly so, but during meditation your mind is totally in the current moment. While meditating, you are so focused that you can hear your blood in your veins; you clear your mind of busy thoughts, you are aware of only the one thing – your breathing, all else is nothing… or at least quietly “out there” where your other still foot lives.

A black belt or any practitioner of the martial arts is very familiar with meditation. For example, mook yum [Korean for mediation or prayer] is performed at the beginning of any karate class to allow students to focus on participating in class and to be goal directed. It is as important as donning the dobok, tying the belt and stretching muscles. You begin  the learning always with clearing your mind.

Meditation is focusing on this exact millisecond in time (present), not the second before (past) and not the one which happens next (future). The moment is the time your imaginative and creative brain gets its “go” . You no longer plan but engage. This brain now has your control panel and what a ride it can be! Take the time; be in the present moment to totally be with the moment. Chill. Slow down. Relax. Clear.

Once you return, your cleared, primed, inspired brain will show you infinitely more ways to look back and at the same time move forward positively. Then it’ll be easier to determine what dots to connect and what dots to leave alone as mere distractions.

Maybe we are learning what Steve is meaning? No matter, just don’t forget to look in the rear view mirror now and again.

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About prdmkgblackbelt

UConn MBA - GO Lady Huskies! UGA Mom, quasi geek, techno-catalyst, NPDP, PrdMktg, reads Campbell & Covey, black belt from Hoshido. Loves sunrises; believes sunsets are promises.
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2 Responses to Can you only connect the dots looking backward?

  1. Dana says:

    Love your voice! You are the Mrs. Miagi of PMM! Keep it up!

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