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As the year's end approaches, many product managers may dream of taking the final weeks of December to reflect on their product development progress, identify areas for improvement, and prepare for the new year with a fresh perspective.
However, product managers rarely have the luxury of slowing down and taking time to think about the big picture. Instead, they may face a backlog that has grown even larger than in December, a calendar filled with meetings and conflicting requests and demands from various stakeholders.
But what if this year could be different? What if product managers resolved to take control of their backlog, roadmap, priorities, and schedule in the new year? By making specific New Year's resolutions, product managers can set themselves up for success and create a more successful product for their company while reducing stress in their own lives.
Here are 13 New Year's resolutions that product managers can consider in 2024.
13 Must-have New Year's resolutions for product managers
Product management is difficult, challenging, and fast moving venture. By the end of this decade, more than 40 million people across the globe will be working in this occupation. So it's important to have some resolutions every year. We have a list for some of the must have new year resolutions for product managers in 2024.
1. Make more effective roadmaps
One way to improve your strategic process in the new year is to create a more effective product roadmap. This document should outline your product's high-level plan and how it aligns with your company's larger goals. It should also communicate this vision to various groups within your company and persuade them to support your product's plan.
Using tools such as Excel or PowerPoint for your roadmap may not be the most effective option. Instead, consider using a visual, easy-to-update, and easy-to-share roadmap application that can adapt to the needs of different audiences, such as presenting a revenue focus for executives or a timeline and resource focus for development planning.
2. Learn a new skill
Whether you want to break into a new industry or have a hobby to take your mind off work, acquiring a new skill can provide numerous benefits. In today's job market, it's important to stand out, and having a unique skill can give you an edge in the hiring process.
Additionally, learning something new can relieve stress and boost your self-esteem as you see your progress. Who knows what opportunities may come your way as a result of this resolution?
3. Increase your agility and become a better sprinter
This can be challenging for companies with a cultural bias towards more documentation or stricter management controls, making it challenging to implement agile development.
However, prioritizing an effort to go agile can be a worthwhile goal for those in fast-changing, highly competitive industries. Becoming an agile shop can allow for quicker product development and the ability to generate real-world data and feedback earlier in the development cycle. This can help the team use valuable market insights to iterate more frequently and improve the product.
4. Declutter your calendar and remove unnecessary meetings
If you adopt an agile framework for your processes, many of the pre-scheduled meetings on your calendar are no longer necessary. Agile emphasizes constantly reevaluating and streamlining processes, so there may be no strategic reason to keep those long weekly or monthly meetings on the calendar.
Even if you don't fully embrace agile, you can still apply this principle to your meeting schedule. Use the new year as an opportunity to take a critical look at all of your standing status calls, progress updates, product review meetings, and "catch-up" sessions. Ask yourself if each meeting is necessary for every attendee and if there is a more efficient way to communicate the information.
Keep reviewing and canceling unnecessary meetings until you have a lean, decluttered calendar with only strategically valuable meetings. Once you have a streamlined schedule, you can use these two blogs to make your meetings as valuable and efficient as possible: one offers tips for product strategy meetings, and the other has general meeting tips with a fun twist.
5. Say no to product features more often
One of the most common challenges faced by product managers is the issue of "feature creep", where the original vision for a product becomes cluttered with various ideas, requests, and suggestions. To combat this, it's important to say no to additional features more often.
As a resolution for the New Year, try to reject more feature requests and use a process for assessing the validity of a suggestion when it becomes difficult to do so. By doing this, you can ensure that your product remains simple and useful for your target audience.
6. Talk to customers more often
Obtaining solid user feedback is crucial in making informed decisions. However, relying on impersonal methods of gathering customer opinions can be easy, such as surveys or usability testing. Therefore, a resolution for the next year should be to actively engage with the target market by talking to customers and prospects, listening to their thoughts on the problems your product aims to solve, and asking for feedback on features that may be removed in the future.
7. Make decisions faster
One of the resolutions product managers should make in the new year is to make decisions faster. Analysis paralysis, which is characterized by extended planning phases, excessive information gathering, and slow progress in product development, can lead to delays and strained relationships between teams.
To avoid this, prioritize decisions, set a goal for each one, and remember that it is okay to choose a "good-enough" option rather than strive for perfection. Making decisions quickly can help avoid frustration and tension within the organization.
8. Cooperate with sales and support teams to better understand customers' needs
To better understand the needs of our customers, product managers need to cooperate with both the sales and support teams. While it may be challenging at times, it is crucial to remember that these teams share the same organizational goals and therefore should make an effort to work together.
Salespeople are a valuable resource for gaining insights into potential users, while support teams have deep knowledge about the needs and problems of current customers. To take advantage of this expertise, product managers should consider attending client meetings with salespeople and holding regular review sessions with the support team.
By staying in touch with both teams, product managers can gain valuable insights into user needs and work to find solutions to any issues.
9. Improve communication within and across teams
Research shows that effective communication is crucial for the success of projects, with 80% of projects within organizations that communicate effectively meeting their goals compared to only 52% of those that struggle with communication.
As a product manager, it is important to focus on how you communicate ideas and problems and hold regular meetings with stakeholders and production teams to ensure that important details are preserved in translation. Additionally, make an effort to listen to your staff and pay attention to their challenges in order to help them overcome them.
10. Prioritize solving customer problems over buzzwords.
As a product manager, it's important to focus on finding solutions to customer issues rather than getting caught up in the hype of the latest technologies. While artificial intelligence, machine learning, design thinking, augmented reality, and blockchain can be exciting and have potential, they should only be utilized if they can effectively solve a customer problem.
It's possible that using fewer technologies or simplifying previous products could result in a better customer experience and price point. Avoid the temptation to create solutions without a specific problem in mind, as it goes against the principles of innovation.
11. Embrace automated innovation solutions.
As a product manager, it's important to embrace automated innovation solutions in order to stay competitive in a business environment where better products are constantly being released. Instead of relying on outdated office tools to manage workflows, consider your team's unique needs and concerns and choose technology that will optimize collaboration and efficiency.
With your skills in identifying and addressing client pain points, you are well-equipped to empower your team to find solutions through new technology. Make it a priority to have regular conversations to identify areas where innovation is slowed and actively evaluate the technology that will best address these issues.
12. Foster a culture that encourages new idea development from everyone
Remember that you hired each team member not only for their skills and experience but also for their knowledge and perspective. Encourage everyone to freely share their ideas and insights, even if they may not all be fully formed or immediately useful.
It's important not to discourage or punish team members for sharing ideas that may not work out, as this can stifle innovation and creativity. Instead, try to see the value in every suggestion and look for ways to build on and combine different ideas to create innovative solutions.
13. Acquire innovation strategy expertise from other industries
In the coming year, product managers should aim to acquire innovation strategy expertise from other industries. This can be achieved by consuming content about market sectors outside of their own on a daily basis. This exposure to new perspectives can spark innovative ideas that can be applied to solving customers' problems.
Radical change can happen quickly, so it is important for product managers to continue to innovate and be open to new ideas and methodologies in order to enable collaboration and succeed in the face of chaos. By taking advantage of insights from customers, team members, and other industries, product managers can sharpen their skills and potentially change the trajectory of 2023 dramatically.