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If we only had the time

You know the Styrofoam packing peanuts that serve as protection for a purchase in a shipping container? The peanuts get all over the place when you open the box. They make a mess.

I fear that’s how many product managers and product marketing managers treat their days. A meeting here, a phone call there. Dealing with some emergency or “just one quick question.” Before you know it, your day is done…and you haven’t actually accomplished anything.

How would your executive team describe a typical product manager’s day?

I doubt they would describe it as “Wikipedia for the product.” But alas, many product managers serve as a product help desk rather than playing a strategic business role.

I heard from two clients today. Both shared woes of companies which don’t appreciate the role of product management. One has just eliminated the entire product management department.

Over a decade ago, I started advocating for Product Management Thursdays. One day a week when you work from home—doing all the things that you can’t get done during the week. Because here’s the thing: sometimes product managers need time to think.

How many purchases can you put in a box full of packing peanuts? None. But if you put the purchase in the box first, you’ll have plenty of room to add peanuts all around the purchase.

Start blocking time on your schedule. No meetings. No email. Block groups of four hours for writing or researching. Block time for thinking.

Work on the thinking bits first and you’ll find you have plenty of time for dealing with other people’s emergencies. Because if you’re always in emergency mode, you’ll never get to the things that really matter.

Defining product management’s strategic role is key part of your product playbook—a collection of workshops, tools, and templates to ensure your team is systematic in their methods and consistent in their deliverables.

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