How Product Managers Can Accomplish Great Things

by drjim on January 20, 2014

All product managers can recognize a great thing when they see it

All product managers can recognize a great thing when they see it
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There is no question that as a product manager there are a countless number of things that we can spend our time on each and every day as we work to refine and implement our product development definition. However, if we want to accomplish great things for our product, just exactly what should we be spending our time doing?

It’s All About The Big Picture

Being a successful product manager is all about having the ability to clearly see into the future. You need to be able to picture what your product is going to look like 3, 4, or even 5 years from now. This means that you’re going to have to get good at seeing the “big picture”. This is basic product manager resume stuff.

Yes, I fully realize that the life of a product manager is filled with 1,000 small details that somehow seem to take up all of our time each and every day. However, you can’t allow yourself to get trapped in to thinking only about these small items. You need to be able to rise above the day-to-day and you need to be able to see where you’d like your product to get to.

Once you have a vision of what your product can become, then you can share that vision with the rest of your product team. Having the ability to explain the success that your product can become in clear terms will make that vision become real for your team. By doing this you’ll give everyone on the team a clear goal to be working towards.

A Journey Of A 1,000 Miles Begins…

Being able to see the big picture is a great start, but then what? The distance between where you are and where you want to get to can sometime seem to be too great of a journey for any product manager to make. What you need to do is to find a way to get started.

The best way to make this happen is to take a look at the path that is going to lead your product to where you want it to get to. Once you can see this path, then the next question is what is the first thing that needs to be done. Identify that and get busy making it happen.

By picking off a small task that can be easily accomplished as your first task, you’ll be able to have a “quick win”. You’ll be able to complete something that will allow you to feel as though you are making progress towards your product goal. Once you’ve made this first step, then everything else becomes a whole lot easier.

Start Now!

No product manager in the world wants to make a mistake. We all fear that a product decision that we’ll make will end up driving our product off the road and we’ll end up in the weeds somewhere. We need to get over this fear, make a decision, and move on.

No, not ever decision that we make will be correct. However, what’s even worse is that we might not have the courage to make a decision in the first place. We can get caught up in the process of evaluating the situation, reevaluating the situation, and end up spinning our wheels and going nowhere. As the shoe company says “Just Do It”.

Getting started means that there will be things that you can’t do. This all comes back to prioritizing your time. In order to make a decision to get started doing something that is going to move your product forward, you are going to have to either stop doing some things or put some other things off. That’s just fine – moving your product close to success is the most important thing that a product manager can do. Determine what needs to be done right now and do it!

What All Of This Means For You

When we come to work each day, the list of things that we need to do only seems to get longer and longer. As product managers who want to do great things with our product, part of our product manager job description needs to say that we need to be able to find a way to prioritize what we are working on.

The right way to go about doing this is to start with the big picture. If we ran the world, what would the ultimate impact of our product be? Once we know this, we need to pick out the few things that we need to start to do in order to make our vision of the future happen. Finally, we won’t get to where we want to be if we don’t start moving now.

When I’m talking with other product managers, they often tell me just how overwhelmed they feel – so much to do and so little time in which to do it. I fully understand how they feel. However, by taking the time to picture how you want things to be and then taking steps to get there, you can begin today to accomplish the great things with your product that will happen tomorrow.

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

Question For You: Who do you think you should share your “big picture” idea with in order to get feedback on it?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

Just exactly how much do you know about your customers? Sure, we all do some segmentation and stuff like that as a part of our product development definition, but do you really know where your customers are in terms of thinking about buying your product? Are they at the beginning? Are they almost ready to make up their minds? Wouldn’t it be great if you knew where they stood and could take action to help them select your product?

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