I'll look into it

Transitions are awkward and difficult in every stage of life whether you are trying to move from crawling to walking, high-school to college, or from one job to the next. In the case of transitioning between software developer and project manager there will be several painful moments of transition that you will experience. That being said, there is one thing you need to learn how to say right off the bat in order to help alleviate some of the pain: “I’ll look into it”. These are the four most important words you can learn in your early stages of leading a team.

As software developers and craftsmen we tend to do two things really well. We are really good at solving problems and we possess a high level of professional pride. As a result, when we are in meetings with customers and they ask “Hey, will feature X be included in the next release?” We will typically -without much thought at all- say “yes”, especially if the request is reasonable.

Saying “yes” is so easy. It makes everyone happy and makes you look nimble and agreeable. Worse yet, if you are taking advantage of Agile development, you get to add the new feature to the backlog and worry about prioritizing it later. Out of sight, out of mind. This will likely require us take on more than we can handle which can cripple the team and force everyone scramble to catch back up. Saying “yes” too quickly can potentially derail an otherwise successful project.

Any situation where a user or your boss asks you to do something, whether it is adding scope to your existing project or taking on some other responsibility never say “yes” right away. The next words out of your mouth should be “I’ll look into it”.

Saying “I’ll look into it” allows you to remain in an agreeable state while simultaneously granting you the opportunity to investigate what exactly you are getting yourself into and make preparations accordingly. I have found that the best thing to do is to ask until the end of the day/week to give an answer and have always been granted the extra time.

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