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The Importance of Asking Questions Prior to Diving Into a New Project

Lin Yang

Product Manager at Affirm

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Problem

"On the first week that I joined this team, my manager came to me and told me that he had been having conversations with the managing director of a global processing business and the goal is to make sure that we can launch new products and that all of the operational parts were lined up so we can get it going and it is a process that needs to be redesigned. With me being new and eager to get started, I immediately dove in without asking questions and came up with a month long plan. I would go to our meetings prepared with new ideas and there was clearly a lot of confusion between what I was doing and what he actually needed."

Actions taken

"After several of my ideas were turned down, I really dug deep to find out what he actually needed and found out that his main concern was the timing and that if we didn't have the project done within six months it would put him in a really tight spot, so the only thing that really mattered to him was that we got this done on time. After getting more details on the actual project, we agreed to help him, but it was not something our team should have been doing, however we were obligated to make sure he was okay. I ended up working with someone else to find a team internally that could execute creating a better database and on top of that, I provided my designers with three options for where I saw paths they could take to develop the platform. We did a lot research and processes with maps so we had a better understanding of the users pain points."

Lessons learned

"It is best to jump into something with your eyes wide open. I had one conversation with my manager who was so excited about it, and I should have taken a little more time to really hear him out and get all of his needs and the details out up front and that would have avoided a lot of tough conversations."


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Lin Yang

Product Manager at Affirm


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