Product Management

It is your first day as a Product Manager in a new company.

What would be your top priorities in the first week? And the first month? What are some of your DOs and DONTs and why?

  • The Team at JAM

    You made it! Hope it was a big salary raise for you. You’ve been recognised as a PM expert and now can sit back and finally relax, right?


    Switch on the mindset of mindful discovery. You have a lot to learn.

    Do you know the concept of an OODA loop? It’s a decision making system devised by colonel John Boyd, and originally used in the context of military operations. The acronym stands for observe, orient, decide, act — four essential components of execution for you as a PM. How does it map on to your first month?

    Week one is observation.

    • Understand the product in depth. Before you make any decisions, you need to know the product inside out. This applies to all its aspects, from how it’s built to how it’s sold. You might have to put on your nerd hat and do some reading too. Yay for documentation!
    • Get to know your team. Talk to each member — yes, that’s many one-on-one meetings. Note your team’s current struggles.
    • Identify stakeholders. Find out whose interests will you need to bear in mind when working on the product. Determine the current relationship between them and the company. In other words, figure out if your biggest investor is already pissed off at lack of updates.

    Month one is orientation.

    • Set expectations. Communicate with your colleagues — your team, those above you, and fellow managers. Make it clear what steps you intend to take in your new position. You might need to introduce them all to the concept of an OODA loop.
    • Prioritise changes for most efficient gain. Identify processes and workflows that can be improved. These small gains will compound overtime, and have a lasting impact.
    • Low hanging fruit. After talking to your team you likely identified little changes that can help them be more productive. Perhaps the web designer would do better with two monitors, and the front end engineer with a better chair?

    Depending on the initial expectations you set, month one might have to include elements of decision or action too. Show your initiative and buy that extra monitor.

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