Product Manager’s #1 priority

Quiz

To start this article, I want to propose a quiz. Based on your experience, what is every Product Manager’s #1 priority?

  1. Have a product vision and a sound strategy to execute this vision
  2. Have a good enough understanding of the user’s problem so the team can iterate quickly on solution hypotheses and deliver the best solution as fast as possible
  3. Create a complete Opportunity Tree to help the team assess opportunities and work on the ones that can validate solution hypotheses as fast as possible
  4. All of the above
  5. None of the above

Have a product vision and a sound strategy to execute this vision

I’ve already mentioned in the past that creating the vision is critical for every product leader and every product manager to do their job. Without:

  • having a clear understanding of the vision of your product
  • having this product vision clearly aligned with the leaders of your company
  • constantly communicating this vision to the entire company

Have a good enough understanding of the user’s problem so the team can iterate quickly on solution hypotheses and deliver the best solution as fast as possible

This is what I’ve been discussing in my latest articles and this is very important to get to the Product Manager’s #1 priority. We must never jump directly to implementing solutions, not when asked by business people to implement their demand and not when knowing about a problem and start implementing the first solution that comes to mind. We know that as we learn something about a problem, we should also map solution hypotheses, and test these solutions as fast as possible so we can deliver the best solution as fast as possible. However, as the first answer, this is not the #1 priority. Again, it’s a means to an end.

Create a complete Opportunity Tree to help the team assess opportunities and work on the ones that can validate solution hypotheses as fast as possible

This answer is a variation of the above question just making explicit a good tool to iterate from problem to solution, the Opportunity Tree. I mentioned this tool in my article about the two sides of product discovery. It helps a product team better understand the expected outcome, map the opportunities that can generate the outcome, generate possible solutions for the opportunities and build experiments to test the solutions. However, this answer is a little worse than the previous answer because it talks about creating a complete opportunity tree. We should use the opportunity tree to have a good enough understanding of the problem to scope out possible solutions and get to the expected result (outcome) as fast as possible. And again, this is a means to an end. It’s not the Product Manager’s #1 priority.

All of the above

So let’s put it all together and make it the Product Manager’s #1 priority, right? No! As explained above, these are all tools that a Product Manager can use to get to her #1 priority. Besides that, I believe it’s quite easy to understand why this one is not the correct answer. We are asking what’s every Product Manager’s #1 priority, so this priority cannot be 3 things. It must be only one thing! This is a common mistake some Product Managers incur, having more than one priority. When a product manager is asked what are her priorities, she cites a list of things, which is somewhat ok if, and only if, she knows and constantly works on her #1 priority, which we will know what it is pretty soon! (=

None of the above

I guess that after reading the explanation of why the previous 4 answers are incorrect, you probably know that “none of the above” is the correct answer. However, despite the fact that this is the correct answer, it’s still unclear what’s the Product Manager’s #1 priority. Even though I gave some hints above, let me now make it explicit.

The Product Manager’s #1 priority is to generate results as fast as possible

Let me repeat this one more time: every Product Manager’s #1 priority is to generate results as fast as possible.

Another example of result generation

I gave some examples of the focus on results in my previous articles. I want to give another example from Lopes, the biggest real estate company in Brazil, where I lead the digital transformation efforts.

  • Outcome: more sales
  • Opportunity: bring info from builders as fast as possible, ideally in real-time
  • Solution 1: integrate with builders’ management system through APIs. The issue here is that all management systems used by builders do not have APIs for integration. So we would have to wait until the management system provider implemented APIs in their system
  • Solution 2: build our own RPAs (Robotic Process Automation) to get the information needed (pricing, available units, and leads) from builders’ management systems without the need for APIs. The issue here is that the team didn’t have enough experience to build these RPAs, so probably it will be a lengthy process.
  • Solution 3: hire an RPA provider to build the integrations for us.

Summing up

  • The Product Manager’s #1 priority is to generate results as fast as possible. Generate results for the company that owns the product and invests in building the product, and results for the customer, i.e., solve her problems and address her needs.
  • Everything that we use in our day-to-day product management function, including the very own product that we build, is not the end goal. They are means to an end, to generate results as fast as possible.
  • Generating results as fast as possible is the #1 priority not only of the Product Manager but of the entire product development team, including engineers, product designers, and product managers from both product teams and structural teams. That’s the only way to guarantee that the team is actually a real team, having a common #1 priority.

Mentoring and advice on digital product development

I’ve been helping several companies extract more value and results from their digital products. Check here how I can help you and your company.

Digital Product Management Books

Do you work with digital products? Do you want to know more about how to manage a digital product to increase its chances of success, solve its user’s problems and achieve the company objectives? Check out my Digital Product Management bundle with my 3 books where I share what I learned during my 30+ years of experience in creating and managing digital products:

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Joca Torres

Joca Torres

Digital product development advisor, coach, and board member. Also an open water swimmer and ukulelist.