Preserving Flexibility as a Product Manager
As a product manager, you put your heart, soul, and abilities into crafting your priorities, roadmaps, and requirements. There have been a considerable number of other people involved all along the way too. Contributors, reviewers, decision-makers – they’ve all got their fingers in the pie in one way or another.
Enormous effort goes into the creation of this work. In fact, you wouldn’t be human if you didn’t feel a bit proprietary about your shared efforts. That being said, it’s vital that you remember, and remind your team, that your work is not cast in stone.
Set the Stage for Change
As a product manager, one of the smartest moves you can make at the outset of any major undertaking is to set the stage for change. You may or may not want change. The people on your team may feel similarly, but the fact is that change inevitably happens.
Before anyone gets moving on the project, insert a footer at the bottom of your product roadmaps. This footer should simply state that your plans are subject to change based on market conditions.
Naturally, nobody wants change. Change means more work, shifting priorities, and potentially loss of momentum. But, if you don’t lay the groundwork for potential changes, you set yourself up for resistance from multiple directions.
Also, make it clear at the team meetings that you are not operating in static conditions. If the competitive environment changes, if there are acquisitions or mergers, if markets move or competitors develop new capabilities, you must make adjustments. It’s not what you envisioned at the outset, but it is clearly beyond your control.
Start Right. Stay Cohesive.
A simple disclaimer on a document and a brief announcement at initial meetings can help you manage unforeseen change. Set the stage for potential change as early in the process as possible and you’ll have the team behind you when an unexpected challenge suddenly blocks your path.
With my next post, we’ll take a look at the best ways to involve customers in your product development process.