Every profession has tactics used by experienced practitioners to be more efficient and productive. Product management is no exception, and in the past few years I have picked up a few tricks of the PM trade that I believe are worth sharing. Three of them are as follows:
1. N.I.H.I.T.O: I learned this concept from the product management classes offered by Pragmatic Marketing. NIHITO is an acronym for Nothing Important Happens In The Office. What this means is that as a product manager, you need to get out of the building and frequently engage with customers to identify new problems to solve, and new opportunities to go after.
Product demos, customer visits, and stakeholder management rarely happen from your desk (unless you’re using video conferencing technology). This is why there tends to be an inverse relationship between the number of hours you spend at your desk per week, and your overall productivity as a PM.
2. Date for A Date: At the very early stages of a project, you usually don’t know when it will be delivered as there’s still too many unknowns. Unfortunately, this doesn’t stop your stakeholders from constantly asking you for a delivery date! They’re not trying to be mean or anything, they just need to make their own plans which happen to be dependent on yours. Instead of telling them that you don’t know, share the date by which you will know, and spend the time between now and then identifying and eliminating the key risks of your project. Once this is done, you can hopefully share a still imperfect, but better informed estimate of when your project will land. This will go a long way to increase your credibility and professional reputation.
3. Meetings Before The Meeting: Your role as a PM might involve selling a complex idea to multiple stakeholders in a high-stakes meeting. If this meeting is the first time your stakeholders are seeing your idea, you will most likely fail. The reason for this is that this setting is actually the wrong one for having the detailed conversations needed to get buy in from your stakeholders.
The way around this problem is that before the big meeting, meet with key stakeholders individually to share your idea and give them the opportunity to raise their concerns. It’s a lot more work of course, but it dramatically improves your chances of success.
I hope you find my tricks helpful. Also, if you have tricks of your own please share! I’m always looking for my next career/life hack. 🙂