Have you ever experienced yourself searching tons of sources for an answer to your current challenge? Do you know that feeling of being excited about all those awesome tools you read or hear about? But unfortunately you forget about the details as soon as you left the page or closed the book? You absorbed tons of knowledge and its all in your head but it doesn´t make sense anymore?
After your excitement was at the highest peak you fell into a black whole still having no idea where to start. So you start again. And again. And again. But you can´t see any progress. Here is the truth
You will never make any progress, if you waste your time learning but not putting things into practice.
Trust me, I´ve been there. Reading books, listening to podcasts, signing up for newsletters, watching videos, consuming every little piece of knowledge and I can tell you what I learned resonated very well. I was just poorly able to put things into action. But you can change it and if you are a Productmanager all skills needed are already there. You just have to make use of them
Stop searching and behave like a PM
What makes a great PM? She is eager to take risk, has an agile mindset and is willing to test, fail and learn. Why don´t you just use your skills for your individual learning journey?
Step 1 — define the underlying problem you want to solve
Thats what we as Product Managers should be excellent at right? Analyzing a customers problem or need in order to solve it and deliver value. So lets start here. Instead of randomly trying to fix your problem with a tool. Understand your problem first. What do you want to achieve? Why did your strategies or tools or behaviors so far not work? Why is it important to you and your team to fix it? What did you try so far to solve it? Do some research with yourself / your teams and define the problemspace befor diving into solution mode.
Step 2 — define a goal
What do you want to solve and achieve by when? How would you know you were successful? All these awesome tools out there might look great on paper and they may be fun. But if you do not define what you want to solve you might make no progress. No matter how fancy the tools are, that you use.
So now that you know which problem to solve, try to clearly articulate how success looks like and how you and your team will recognize you were successsfull. This helps you to stay focussed and understand if you are on the right path.
Step 3— Research solutions and timebox your efforts
Its ok (or even important) to invest in continuous growth in order to learn. But please be aware that this is a never ending process. You will never have read all books and articles, never listened to all podcasts and watched all videos. Because while you are doing it, people create more and more and more. Overwhelming isn’t it? So be rigourous. Timebox your efforts. A day might be enough, maybe two. Not more. Ask your network, colleagues, read an article. Review your own learnings. Write down the things you like, why you like them and find a way to make decision making for a specific method or tool easier for you.
Step 4— Start MVP
Choose one method. If you have a team, communicate clearly that this is MVP and you just want to start in order to test and learn. Many people are afraid to invest too much time in a wrong method, or to make any other kind of mistake. This fear holds them back from doing anything at all. So keep in mind — not starting is worse than starting wrong and learning fast.
Step 5— Iterate and Learn
Now that you overcome your fear (btw. F.E.A.R = False Events Appearing True / Grant Cardone — the 10x Rule) and started acting, be prepared to be flexible, to learn and to improve. Document your learnings, gather feedback from your colleagues or write learning cards for yourself in order to have the opportunity for a retrospective with yourself or your team. What worked? How do you like the method? What didn`t you like?
Look at your goal (Step 29) and use your learnings to decide if you stop, continue or improve and continue.
If you stop, look at your previous research. Don´t start from scratch. You´ve been there already. Pick another method and just get started.
It is not about the tool. Its about the progress.
In a world where you can get access to unlimited knowlegde almost for free its becomes overly complicated to make a choice. This is overwhelming. And even with the best preparation, failure happens. So similar to building products, try to learn fast fail fast and improve instead of investing too much time in getting it right. It will most likely not or only incremental lower our risk. You will learn faster if you put things into action and experience the pros and cons while experimenting!
Rely on your gut feeling
Honestly, hour parents and grandparents survived without access to unlimited sources of knowledge and they did great. What we can learn from them is that is ok to rely on our gut feeling. Having too much information makes not always everything easier.
So please! STOP SEARCHING — START ACTING– now 🙂
You want more?
Interested to get to know my personal Product Management Toolbox? I´ve created and interactive tool to collect all my favorite methods for the entire Product Management Process from working 12 years in product for Enterprises, startups and as a founder. The tool includes links to the respective tools so you get easy access to everything you need to get started, from vision, to research, to build to measure. Get access here.