Why Product Managers Should Move Slowly

by drjim on November 11, 2013

Sometimes the decision made slowly is the right decision

Sometimes the decision made slowly is the right decision
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Just exactly what a product manager does during the average day can vary from product manager to product manager. However, there is one thing that all of us do each and every day: make decisions. Sometimes we make good decisions, sometimes not so good decisions. As product managers we’d all like to find a way to make more good decisions (and we’d like to find a way to put this on our product manager resume!) The good news is that this is actually easy to do.

The Wrong Way To Make A Decision

Life moves pretty fast these days. As a product manager, when you come into the office on a given day, you really can’t be sure just exactly what is going to happen that day. People will be coming up to you constantly and either providing you with updated information or asking for you to make a decision for them about your product development definition or something else related to your product.

This is where things can start to wrong very quickly. I’m more than willing to admit that if someone comes to me and asks me for a decision, my gut reaction is to give them the decision that they’re looking for. The problem with this thinking is that more often than not my gut reaction is probably the wrong type of decision for me to be making.

What happens is that I’m making the decision based on only the information that I have available to me right then and there. This is why I make mistakes. There might be a lot of other things going on that the person that I’m talking with may not know about (and neither do I). Both of us are dealing with partial information and in my rush to make progress and move my product forward, I’m making a poor decision.

The Right Way To Make A Decision

So if we can all agree that quickly made “shooting from the hip” decisions are the wrong ones for product managers to be making, then what are the right decisions for us to be making? It turns out that the answer is for us to slow things down.

Now I know that a bunch of you may be thinking to yourself “that’s crazy, I don’t have the time to slow down”; however, I would disagree with you. If making a lot of decisions quickly is going to get you into trouble, then the idea of slowing down and taking the time to make decisions once you have all of the information that you need sure starts to sound like the right way to do things.

Taking time to make decisions will give you the time that you need to consider all of the relevant issues that surround that item that you’re being asked to make a decision about. Considering the implications of the decision that you are about to make and what the long term lasting effects of it might be just might allow you to make a better decision.

What All Of This Means For You

Making the right decisions is what can turn your product into a success. Of course that means that making the wrong decisions can cause it to fail. Every product manager makes a lot of decisions every day, now if we could just learn how to make the right decisions! Even though you’ll never see this as part of a product manager job description, it is a critical skill that we all need to have.

It turns out that making the right decisions has a lot to do with how quickly we make our decisions. When asked to make a decision, our gut reaction is to quickly provide a response. However, experience has shown us that when we do this, we can end up overlooking important details and end up making the wrong decisions. Take your time and slow down when it’s time to make your next decision. You’ll end up making better decisions.

In the fast paced world that we live in, the idea of actually doing something slower can seem very foreign to a product manager. However, time and time again experience has shown that if you can take more time to make your decisions then you’ll end up making better decisions. Take your time and turn your product into a success!

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Product Management Skills™

Question For You: Do you think that it is possible to take too long to make a decision?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

Quick question for you product manager: does your product development definition consider your product to be a global product? Even if you said “no”, I’d be willing to bet that if a big enough order showed up on your doorstep from some country that you had never heard of, you’d still try to find a way to get your product into their hands. Give all this, just exactly what does a product manager have to do if they are trying to make their global product a success?

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