Last week I left Shapeways. Like I mentioned in a previous post I learned a lot while I was there and I can’t thank Shapeways enough for the opportunity.
Before joining Shapeways I had a good idea of what I needed to work on. What I needed to learn to just be better. Over the past couple of days I’ve thought about what I’ve learned and what I’ve worked on throughout the past years.
Before joining Shapeways I saw myself as a part-time micromanager. Mainly leaving everyone to do what they needed to do on their own, but also sometimes inserting myself too much into their own process. So much so that I would do the work myself or guide it very closely.
I wanted to stop this. I knew it wasn’t good for me or anyone around me. When I started managing people at Shapeways this was my first goal. I wanted to mentor and advise, not delegate. There is more than one way to get something done and I wanted to let everyone who I managed explore those ways on their own.
I wanted to make sure I was listening and not telling. “Maybe” became my favorite response ever (thanks Matthew). I worked hard to create a sense of distance and independence while being observant. This was something I worked at every day and based on the feedback I received from my direct reports, it paid off.
I didn’t know a damn thing about small, medium, or large manufacturing before coming to Shapeways. I still think I don’t know much about it, but I know more than I used to.
But it wasn’t just manufacturing that I learned about. I got to explore both logistic and commerce problems and solutions. While I dabbled in this space beforehand this gave me a lot more room to do so.
I wouldn’t say I’m ready - nor do I want to - start building a vertically integrated commerce product, but I do understand what’s involved in making physical objects, and that’s something I had little knowledge of beforehand.
I’ve always loved thinking about product strategy. Over the past several years I got the opportunity to do this at large unlike ever before.
Thinking about what product changes would do for us in a month, a year, and three years was - and continues to be - one of my favorite things to do. I got a lot of chances to do this over the past several years which means I was able to practice with a lot of smart people.
Each time we thought about this I was able to see where I was wrong, where I was right, and course corrected myself for next time. If anything I’ve learned to be comfortable having strong convictions but also changing my mind at any time.
I hope to revisit this post every so often. After a few months or years, just to check in and see what I’ve learned or I’m working on now. With every new opportunity or environment comes new challenges. I’m excited to see what they help me achieve.