I considered calling this "simple formula for success" but there is no such thing, sadly. However, it might help to approach your work this way:
Or: do the most important thing each day, focus on it and communicate what you’re doing.
Prioritisation x Execution
Overall, Product Managers need to wear many hats and often have long to-do lists. This formula revolves around picking the task that will have the most impact and fully focusing on it, so its value can be realised. That's why it can be useful to non-Product Managers too!
Assuming the importance of a task and how well it is executed are both rated on a scale of 0-10, then Prioritisation x Execution has a potential score of 0-100. You should always aim for 100.
Scoring 100 means you are working on the most valuable thing you can and delivering everything that is needed for all the value to be realised.
So if you have 10 tasks on your to-do list and you work on the fourth most important task, even if you do a great job on that, your max score is limited to 40. Likewise, if you pick the most important task and only complete half of what is needed then you are only scoring 50.
Generally, when we apply ourselves to something it's because we have the capability to do it well (or we'll commit to do it!). So the Execution score in the above formula is usually high.
The easiest way to improve your result is to increase the Prioritisation score by working on the task that will move the needle the most.
In the book ‘First Things First’, Stephen Covey says that if you focus on moving the big rocks first then even if you only move that one rock each day, you will be productive; he is right.
Transparency is included in the formula because I have found that it is very hard to over-communicate what you are doing as a Product Manager.
Being transparent about what you are doing and why has benefits:
- People can help you if they have more/different information;
- Expectations are clearly set for everyone;
- Communication is a fundamental skill that should be practised;
- Course corrections can be made early and often;
- Showing your work shows your value to others;
- Results can easily be measured back to clearly communicated goals/metrics;
- The Lean Startup approach — release your work early and often for maximum impact;
- You will get more feedback, so you will learn and improve faster;
- A lack of communication leads to more spin/PR being needed later to align stakeholders. Spin/PR is difficult and risky;
- You will never be chased for updates if you over-communicate.
Do the most important thing each day, focus on it and communicate what you’re doing. I told you it was easy!