Being new to product you want to dive right in and solve everything now. An enthusiastic mindset is definitely a good thing, but it needs to be tempered with realism and thoroughness.
One of my product mentors gave me some advice for how to approach product management with this balance in mind.
They said “See step 10 (the vision), focus on step 1 (the now), and realize there are 20 steps between step 1 and step 10.”
I think we all intuitively know that our product strategy and roadmap is never going to play out exactly how we planned. But I loved this framing because it highlights just how difficult and winding the road to reaching your vision can be. And we have to be okay with that being the reality.
Taking this approach does a few things for a PM:
- Reminds us that we’re not going to solve everything or know everything today
- Reminds us to be patient. With the product, with customers, and with ourselves
- At each step of the product journey helps us recalibrate and ensure that we are still headed towards the product vision.
- Prompts us to ask “is the original vision still where we want this product to go”
- Helps with stakeholder management. They may want to know why we don’t have every answer right now or can’t just build it all now. Messaging this framework, helps them understand how we discover and work
- Builds team collaboration, as we work together to figure out how to approach each step
While we always need to know where we are going, we also have to be okay with not getting there today or in the way we expected. As long as we keep moving forward with the vision in mind and a focus on what we can do now, we will get there eventually.