February 5, 2022

Lesson 16: Get Out Of The Building

GOOTB... ...It's like we aren't even trying with our acronyms anymore. We used to take pride in our wittiness, coming up with a clever abbreviated form of whatever we were trying to convey.

Lesson 16: Get Out Of The Building


...It's like we aren't even trying with our acronyms anymore.

We used to take pride in our wittiness, coming up with a clever abbreviated form of whatever we were trying to convey.

Remember SWOT ... Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, strengths.

or KISS ... Keep it simple, stupid.

or DIET ... Did I eat that?

These days we just blurt out a meaningless phrase and try to spell it with letters in a way that literally sounds like it was the result of a violent dry-heaving episode.

"Guys, I don't feel very good. I feel like I'm going to..."


Anyway, GOOTB stands for Get Out Of The Building. It's a principle that you are expected to do, but won't be able to do, a reality that will have you spinning around in so many circles that you will literally want to puke out of dizziness...

...it ain't easy.

The origins of GOOTB can be traced all the way back to Horace Greeley, the editor and founder of the New-York Tribune. In 1865 he became known for urging people to settle the Old West, a land of opportunity for the young and unemployed.

"Go west, young man," he popularized. "And grow up with the country."

GOOTB and GWYM are essentially the same thing. Not only do they convey the need to get out of your comfort zone, they also sound like the names of characters in a Nickolodean cartoon.

"Who lives in a cubicle and never leaves?" you hum the opening melody to Spongebob Square Pants. "I do. I do."

It would be a cartoon about a Product Manager who is chained to his cubicle by his Scrum team. The heroic and mildly irreverent actions of GOOTB and GWYM help him break loose and get away from that hell hole...

...The moral of the cartoon would be to warn the upcoming generation about making terrible career choices like Product Management.

Now back to Horace.

In the context of 1865, your office could be compared to an equally oppressive Washington D.C. As Horace put it, "Washington is not a place to live in. The rents are high, the food is bad, the dust is disgusting and the morals are deplorable."

So in the spirit of Mr. Greeley, may I echo the same sentiment. "Your office is no place to be. The meetings are long, the people are boring, the break room microwave is disgusting and your executive team is deplorable. Get out of the building, young PM, and get to know your customers."

GOOTB isn't the only acronym that inspires you to leave the office. I attended a popular certification course where they were pushing the term NIHITO...

...Nothing Important Happens In The Office.

Admittedly, it is at least an attempt at a pronounceable acronym...


...If you repeat the word "NIHITO" often enough, someone might just bring you a minty, lime, and rum cocktail...

...and with enough liquid courage, maybe you'll finally be brave enough to ask out your office crush...

...and maybe, just maybe, something important might happen in the office after all.

Other than that, you should avoid your office like it is a haunted house possessed by evil spirits and poltergeists...

...which actually probably isn't far from the truth.

In fact, here is pretty much a direct quote from Poultergeist, the scariest horror movie when I was a kid:

“You son of a bitch! You split the user story, but you left the points, didn't you? You son of a bitch, you left the points and you split the user story! You split the user story! Why! Why!”

And here's another fun office quote from The Exorcist:

"How long is this meeting going to last?"

"Until you rot in earth."

And lastly, one of my favorite engineering quotes directed at Product Managers, brought to us from The Shining:

"Whenever I'm in here and you hear me typing, that means that I am working, that means don't come in. Now, do you think you can handle that? Good. Now why don't you get the fuck out of here? Hm?"

Do I need to do any more convincing that it is best for a Product Manager to get as far away from the office as possible?

The main reason you need to GOOTB is because of this little thing called credibility. In order to be a good product leader, you need people to follow you. But sometimes you gotta ask the question, "Why would anybody follow me?"

Is it because the scrum guide told you that you own the backlog?

Is it because you got an MBA from an unaccredited online university?

Is it because you're the only one who knows how to login to JIRA?

The tricky thing about Product Management is that nobody bestows upon you any leadership. Nobody is going to appoint you to anything. Let's face it. There are already so many people who naturally get to experience the market every day: executives, sales, customer support...

...and if you follow in the footsteps of Theranos...

...your legal department.

This means you need to be at least on the same level of market experience as everyone else. Otherwise you'll just be known as the person who organizes JIRA for the engineering team...

...which you definitely don't want...

...unless, that is, you like JIRA...

...which if you do...

...get off of my blog you crazy perverted psychopath.

So here's the lesson. For all the rest of you sane people who hate JIRA as much as I do, you need to GOOTB because NIHITO. It's a simple rule, and it's the secret piece to unlock the puzzling situation you find yourself in.

If you don't do this then you will very much relate to what Jigsaw said in that one Saw movie:

"Suffering? You haven't seen anything yet."