Not now, not ever

Circa 1996. Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) was adopted in 1996 by the United Nations to ban all nuclear tests for civil or military purposes.  India declined to endorse any regimen that permitted some countries to retain nuclear weaponry while limiting the ability of other countries to develop similar capabilities of their own. Arundhati Ghose, a senior career diplomat of India was deputed to head the Indian delegation at the CTBT conference in Geneva. Ms.Ghose was under extreme pressure to do the tight rope walk. The long-term objectives of her country would be compromised if she accedes to sign, where as in the short-term, some countries might grant development loans or back India in something else. In the conference, India declined to sign the treaty, with Ms.Ghose famously saying “not now, not ever”. India, hitherto not known for taking strong foreign affairs decisions, had a celebrity in Ms.Ghose! India then went on to conduct 2 nuclear tests in 1998 for deterrent and peaceful use.

As Product Managers we come across situations where we need to protect the product’s long term vision while dealing with extreme pressure to give-in to several short-term benefits. Sometimes, under the guise of Agile – you are tempted to agree to short term benefits that effectively changes the trajectory from achieving the long term vision. Agile is the way to incrementally achieve the clearly laid out vision, not to do something for the time being. Next time when someone comes to you with a request that does not align with the product’s vision or even a long term roadmap, personal consequences regardless, will you emulate Ms.Ghose to say “Not now, not ever”?

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