The contender mindset helps us to unwind conflicting data, flaws, and concealed assumptions that assist in predicting critical issues. The aim is to look out for the edge cases & handle them diligently.
It’s a good practice to approach each step with a hypothesis that needs validation. It can help you to spot risks that can be mitigated easily or brainstorm over the risk which requires pensive decision making.
The idea is to sustain a balanced skepticism & remain broad-minded about the holy cows being proven wrong. Be open to embrace constructive criticism which can help to further strengthen your product pillars.
The onus lies on a PM to be merciless in making prioritization decisions so that the developers can focus on P0 items.
3 ways to master the contender mindset
1. Validate hypothesis 🧪
Whether it’s a small feature enhancement or creating a completely new product from scratch, don’t assume anything without validation. In fact, always question any recommendations and make sure your deep dive even if the suggestion is coming from the leadership team.
A/B testing is a helpful tool to validate incremental optimizations which require minimum effort.
However, for a brand new feature launch, do gather qualitative and quantitative data points during definition & implementation to strengthen confidence and make changes accordingly. Post-Go-live, make sure to track the early metrics & implement optimizations if the objectives aren’t met.
2. Accept constructive criticism 🚫
Always seek out & embrace feedback shared by colleagues, stakeholders, or customers that don’t seem to be in your favor. It is best to avoid being defensive & respect the importance of the diverse skillset brought to the table by various stakeholders.
The constructive criticism doesn’t target a person but the product solution so it is very crucial to share across all the data & insights accumulated to validate the hypothesis. In fact, that’s the key reason why the Product Requirement Document includes assumptions, risks & multiple user scenarios.
3. Extreme prioritization 🔢
Often we have tons of new ideas to implement and problems to solve, however, due to a crunch of resources the responsibilities lie on the shoulder of the Product Manager to deprioritize the tasks and move the high-impact items to extreme priority.
It’s considered to be the most impactful hack during PMing as this helps in avoiding unnecessary distractions & warrant a thorough deep dive into each initiative in the development cycle.
Once this is decoded, not only the companys’ OKRs are achieved but the significant cost is saved by only focusing on the key action items.
Prioritization frameworks such as RICE helps to achieve that objective in a structured manner. Moreover, it inherently drives stakeholder alignment — permitting a focus on the items likely to have the highest impact, empowering product managers to drive toward outcomes rather than specific projects, and arrest context-switching between many competing alternatives.
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