Inspired by Martin Eriksson’s Product Decision Stack video, I set up a brainstorm for my team. What were our PM principles that could act as “shortcuts” in helping us make difficult decisions that would also ladder up to our strategy and vision?
The product managers watched a few key minutes of Eriksson’s video, and then we brainstormed.
The board was set up like this, in Miro:
I also included the following screenshots from Martin Eriksson’s video https://www.mindtheproduct.com/the-product-decision-stack-martin-eriksson/:
The product management team came up with dozens of ideas, many of which overlapped. We walked through them, with me taking notes in comments to make sure I understand the details of what each person had in mind, and the team debating each idea.
This took a few sessions. Afterwards, I took all of the ideas and boiled them down into three principles, each of which used the [something] even over [something] phrasing.
I wrote these up in our documentation. Then I went into more detail about each one. A principle is only useful if it’s actually something that can help you make a decision, if it’s something that someone could legitimately argue the other side of, so these were all items that needed explaining.
I shared these with the team and with stakeholders, looking for feedback.
One interesting note of feedback from a stakeholder – an acknowledgment of how often product managers have to make hard decisions between x and y.
Based on feedback from stakeholders, I also added the failure state of each one, framed as “How would we know if we’ve taken this principle too far?”
For example, let’s say I owned a grocery story, and I wanted to provide my team a guide on what kind of brands they should be adding to our store. I might have a principle like “Quality even over price”, following that up by explaining that quality comes first in everything we do, that we don’t sell subpar quality food, examples of what quality means to us, that while price is certainly important, quality is more important and here’s why, etc.
“How would we know if we’ve taken this principle too far: If our prices make it impossible for the average middle-class American family to be able to shop at our store for their weekly meals.”
Feedback from both the product managers and stakeholders has been positive so far, and I’m looking forward to continually referencing and refining these principles as time goes on. While I consider them “final for now,” I’m always open to iterating on them as circumstances change.