Mental Models for Product Owners

I recently finished Creativity, Inc. by Ed Catmull and in it he relayed a few interesting ideas that directors at Pixar use to construct mental models for creating movies. One of my favorites was from Andrew Stanton:

Andrew likens the director’s job to that of a ship captain, out in the middle of the ocean, with a crew that’s depending on him making land. The director’s job is to say, “Land is that way … You have to embrace that sailing means that you can’t control the elements and that there will be good days and bad days and that, whatever comes, you will deal with it because your goal is to eventually get to the other side.”

I appreciated this and it rings true to the job of a product owner who is guiding his or her team into a successful launch. It’s important to lead with confidence no matter if one is 100 percent confident they are headed in the correct direction. It’s always possible to adjust when new information presents itself.