Dear Product Manager, be insanely focused

Ope Adeoye 2 minute read

It's extremely easy for a product team to get sucked into pursuing a thousand little irrelevant activities. 

  • That special customer that wants this "quick feature"
  • That thing the CEO is not happy about, that can be done in one sprint
  • The special report to be submitted to the board committee
  • Yada, yada, yada...

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Hol' it!

It's a rabbit hole. With shiny lights.

This kind of path can derail you and the team from the journey at hand. You end up with this spaghetti of features that may not tell any coherent story or tackle a specific problem. On a personal note, you may end up participating in so many activities you never even get any work done. Just hopping from meeting to meeting. Doing document after document. No "GBAM" moment. It saps away motivation. I'm sure as a Product Manager, this is something you've experienced before.

The best approach? Be extremely clear about the persona of your ideal customer, be sure your long term product positioning and vision is perfectly aligned with that persona, then define the one or two most crucial mid-term metrics with which you want to measure your success and progress. Crystalize your vision in one clear killer objective. 

Then stay focused on that like a maniac.

At some point in the life of the team working on Quickteller, our objective was "all ATMs in Nigeria must have the service". We could rally everyone around this singular measurable objective and go at it. At another stage, we attempted to push "one million who use and love". Go all in!

When you wake up in the morning and you are cross-checking your TODO list, anything that doesn't drive your singular objective should stand the risk of being shaved off. 

When you get that meeting invite or document request or feature recommendation, ask yourself, "how does this help me achieve my single objective?". If it's hard to find the connection, try to knock it off.

One thing you should also do though, so that you don't pursue the wrong objective for too long; is to pinch yourself and team and ask periodically if the current objective you are pursuing drives the long term vision or not. 

God speed!