PM Quote of the Day — Baldassare Castiglione

Employ in everything a certain casualness which conceals art and creates the impression that what is done and said is accomplished without effort and without its being thought about.

I used to believe that sprezzatura — the “unstudied nonchalance” Castiglione describes in The Book of the Courtier — must be something one is born with.  A hint about the truth is in Castiglione’s own words: “which conceals art and creates the impression….”

My closest partner in a business school entrepreneurship project was an experienced and accomplished sales executive.  He appeared so fluid and at ease when selling an idea, advancing a position, or pitching a business plan.   But his apparently innate grace was actually quite studied.  For example, when prepping for a sales call, he dedicated hours, even days, to careful preparation.  I was a bit shocked at the effort he insisted on for all our project’s communications; I had always thought sales folks winged it most of the time. 

This approach came in handy when we delivered our new venture pitch.  It took us weeks to revise the story line, refine the presentation, and familiarize ourselves with every nook and cranny of the venue.  At showtime, our delivery was notably more polished and assured than our competitors. 

But the real benefit was when something unexpected came up on one slide: an “obvious” typo.  I knew the material so well that I didn’t freeze.  With a sense of ease and comfort, I simply talked to the slide’s point.  Well, with one twist…

We’re have a pilot customer lined up — insert Company Name here — and we’re going to start the implementation shortly… just as soon as we learn to spell obvious.

Business Value Game — Prioritizing Requirements

While I haven’t gone through a live simulation of the game, I like a number of the concepts behind The Business Value Game (post here, game here).  Of course, I love learning through simulation (entire Complexity Set here). 

The game also has players assume the role of salespeople who have to prioritize the backlog that developers will have to implement.  This approach is great for both roles:

  • If you have salespeople play the game, they start to get a better feel for the real consequences of having made unfulfillable promises at deal time. 
  • As developers play the game, they should develop more empathy for the pressure that sales teams feel as they try to satisfy the customer and close deals.

Very promising stuff…  Now, when can I get the time to check it out?!

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