virtual product management

Decisions decisions

Turns out, managing a product is all about decisions.  Go figure.  What segments, what features, what price, tune the UX for newbies or pros, invest in onboarding or partner enablers.  The list goes on and on.  At times it feels like unravelling a Gordian Knot.  How to invest precious resources to meet the business goals of the day.  That’s the name of the game.  The trick is to stay organized and not get rattled by the sheer volume of data, number of situations and competing uses for those precious resources.  The solution is not earth shattering.  Use a decision making process and keep track of your decisions.  ‍‍‍The first step ironically, is to decide which decisions to make first.  Think of decisions like mini projects.  The tough ones take time and resources to harvest data and air out the tradeoffs.  That's why you need to prioritize them.  The worst thing you can do is try to make a bunch of difficult decisions simultaneously.  That’s a prescription for making bad decisions and you'll regret that.      

posted by Randy Kun         2018

Sorting them using a framework like the well known urgent/not urgent/important/not important 4 quadrant model can help keep things in perspective.  After that, do yourself a favor and rank order them rather then simply clustering in priority groups.  As for making the actual decisions, it pretty much goes like this.  The context is established by the data you actually have.  If the data is rough or non-existent then you have to make assumptions.  After that you identify all of your options and for each one, list the pros and cons. Then the fun begins.  The actual decision turns on how much weight you assign to the various pros and cons.  Some folks assign numbers to everything and let the math do the talking, others just talk it through. There's no one right way.  And did I mention not everyone’s vote is equal.  Chiefs swing bigger bats than worker bees and so do subject matter experts.  That’s life.  In the end some weighting of the pros and cons will win the day and the decision is made.   You’d think that would be the end of it.  Done and dusted. But its amazing how many decisions come back from the grave.  New information can become available.  Or the last decision is not performing as expected.  Regardless of the reason, it’s helpful to refer back to the original decision model (options, pros, cons, weights).  That way you can rapidly focus on what changed while reusing the original decision framework.  Of course to refer back, you need something to refer to.  That's why it’s important to keep a journal of your decisions.  It doesn’t take long to write them down and the time and wheel spinning it can save later makes the record keeping an inexpensive part of the process.  So there it is.  Decision making 101.  Tee up your decisions in priority order and write down how you made each decision.