“When you’re a product leader, people look to you for answers. Why is the churn rate high? Why is feature X not being used? How do we get revenue up? And most importantly, what are we going to do to fix it all?”

In our free eBook, The Path to Product Excellence: Stories and Advice from the Field, Braden Kowitz presents the above scenario that Product Managers experience on a daily basis. There’s a lot of advice out there about how to tactically deal with these situations, and we even offer some up when we can. But we don’t always talk about that moment right before you have to figure out what actions you need to take. I’m talking about that anxious moment where, even if momentarily, you feel paralyzed because the answer to those questions may very well be:

“I don’t know.”

“I hate it when I don’t have good answers to questions like this. It touches a deep dark fear: maybe I’m not good at my job. As someone trusted with product decisions, shouldn’t I have all the answers? Aren’t people expecting me to have all the answers?

I know that’s crazy. Nobody has all the answers. But when I’m feeling uncertain, it’s easy to put my guard up. Instead of saying “I don’t know,” I’ll dismiss a question as not important. Worse, when I’m uncertain, I may stop asking my own questions about what could be better. This all just leads to worse product decisions.”

In the eBook, Braden offers 3 steps about how to handle those moments and make sure you don’t fall into that downward spiral. They’ll give you that ability to step back, process things for a moment, and then move to tackle the issues in front of you. It’s like a quick shot of Headspace!

“So the next time you’re feeling stuck, don’t let your worst instincts control you. Get some perspective, either with these steps or with whatever works for you. It’s always okay to say, “I don’t know what we should do next.” The sooner we get comfortable with that phrase, the sooner we can get unstuck and on the road to a successful product.”

To read Braden’s piece and to get more stories and advice from product experts such as Dan Olsen, Kat Kennedy, and Hiten Shah, download our eBook!

Dottie Schrock
Dottie Schrock Jan 28, 2019