3 Steps Great Product Managers Follow to Execute Well

To excel at execution, you should do three things really well:

1. Identify the right things to do
2. Do it
3. Learn from it

In today, article I define what each of the above means. Today’s guide, unlike all others, does not focus on “how”, but only on the “what”

Identifying the right things to do

The simplest (and the best) way to master this step is to answer four straightforward questions:

Why (should we do this):

Every time you plan to do something

1. Take a second to ask yourself why your team (or company) should do the thing.
2. Then, remind yourself of your team’s (company’s) goal.

Finally, check if #1 and #2 have considerable overlap.

In other words, if the answer to “why am I doing this” is not directly or indirectly related to
the company’s larger goal, then you’re in the wrong direction.

Who (are we doing it for):

Once you’ve established the why, clearly define the user persona you’re targeting.

Do this and create clarity for the entire team. This clarity is essential to finding the right problem and designing an effective solution.

What (problem should we solve, and what solution should we create):

Now that you know the goal and the user you’re targeting, it’s time to identify the right problem. Start with a list of potential problems, and pick the most painful one.

Then find the best solution set for the problem.

(Wondering how to do this? Stay tuned for the following newsletter)

When (should we build this):

At this stage, you need to prioritise the solutions and select the one you should do soonest to create the most impact.

Do it

Once you know what to do and when to do it, your only job is to get it done. Getting it done is usually the most time consuming and mentally demanding part of the entire journey.

To get it right, I recommend focusing on and mastering the following three aspects:

Process excellence:

Shipping features needs a process. The process typically has some or all steps: requirements gathering, estimation, development, testing, and go-live. These steps are mostly the same across teams and companies. But, the nuances around the steps can be very different. As a product manager, you must:

1. know the nuances
2. know the inefficiencies
3. know the steps in the process that can slow you down the most

Focus on becoming aware of all of the above.

Then, create systems to minimise the impact (of the above) on the overall timelines.

Project management

The goal of this step is twofold: ensure everything is on track, and everyone is aware of the progress.

This might sound easy, but it is not. Project management will require you to invest large amounts of time and energy following up with relevant stakeholders and checking on their progress.

The more stakeholders involved, the more effort.

Despite that, you should master this step to ensure timely and high-quality releases.

Stakeholder management

Shipping features also needs support from multiple people in and out of your team.

The problem is that all these people work differently, and more importantly, they interpret the goals differently.

So at this stage, your responsibility is to:

1. Take end to end ownership. That means if someone else does not deliver on time, it is your job to fix that.
2. Build strong relationships so you understand how others work and know what it takes to get them to do what you need them to.

Learn from it

Every time you ship something, things will go wrong, and things will go right. In both cases, you must learn to get better.

The three things that you should do:

Define

Before each release: define the metrics, create baselines, and form hypotheses. Then, develop detailed processes to measure them.

1. After the release:

Measure

Measure how you performed against the baselines or metrics you set in the previous step.

An excellent way of knowing that you’re measuring the right things is to answer the questions:

1. Was the release a success?
2. Did we ship on time?
3. Did we meet the quality standards?
4. Was the product/feature successful?

It is essential to create processes to help you get the answers to these questions quickly and easily.

Get better

If you shipped one week late, investigate what caused it and determine what you need to do to avoid the same thing again.

If you shipped on time, document what you did and keep doing it.

Whatever happens, make sure you take the time to think to learn from it. Use the learnings to get better.

Do this every time, and you will become a great product manager soon.

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