Even though 2020 is now (thankfully!) behind us, there is a lot that we as Product Managers can learn from a year that changed so much, challenged so many of our beliefs, changed our ways of working, and reshaped our organizations.
Whether it is Learning to Act Like a Wartime PM, Roadmapping Remotely, or Keeping Your Customers at the Center of Everything You Do, many Product people wrote seriously inspirational blog posts last year.
Learn from their knowledge and position yourself to better react and adapt in a future that is far from predictable!
1. What 2020 Has Taught the Product World
Why I Like It: Like it or not, you learned a lot in 2020. You learned in the early days of the pandemic that toilet paper is a commodity, you learned that Zoom is actually a verb, and you learned that you can adapt to just about anything.
Product School does a great job diving into all of the things we as Product Managers learned in 2020 and how those learnings will benefit us going forward.
Lean into that optimism!
2. You Are Now a Wartime Product Manager
Why I Like It: Hopefully, the pandemic proves to be the largest crisis most of us will face in our lives. However, it will almost certainly not be the last professional crisis you face.
Learn how you can identify and manage crises and how you can pivot from a “peacetime” to a “wartime” Product Manager. It comes down to critical evaluation, acceleration of decisions, and simplifying your world. Be more ready for the next crisis.
Disclaimer: The author of this post wrote You Are Now a Wartime Product Manager
3. Working Remotely? 5 Ways to Help Your Product Team Thrive
Why I Like It: Hopefully, you’ve already learned quite a few techniques to improve your ability (and your team’s ability) to work remotely! But I guarantee you’ll pick up a few more with this post from Teresa Torres.
For example, have you set norms or rules for your team communication channels?
When is it ok to send a late night Slack message?
How do you communicate if you need someone’s attention RIGHT NOW?
What are the roles of asynchronous and synchronous communication at your organization?
I told you there was still more to learn…
4. Hiten Shah on Mastering the Art of Distributed Product Management
“Product management has not changed, but our way of working has.”
Why I Like It: Distributed Product Management is inherently difficult. You begin with a role that requires constant communication, stakeholder mobilization, education, and diverse teams and now you’re expected to do it completely remotely?!
What about if you’ve never met any of these people in the real world (!!)?
In this post written from Shah’s talk at the Product Excellence Summit, I enjoyed how he first focused on the things that haven’t changed:
- It’s still important to talk to users
- It’s still important to set goals
- It’s still important to spend the right amount of time on stakeholder education
What has changed then? More online collaboration (both synchronous and asynchronous), more documentation, and the need for even more adaptability.
5. Remote Work Is Lonely. Here’s What Companies Can Do to Foster Community
Why I Like It: Mental health was a hot topic in 2020 and rightfully so.
It’s easy in a remote-only world (especially one with a pandemic) to get lonely. For that reason, it’s more important than ever to foster a sense of community at your company.
As frequent communicators and connectors, Product Managers have a large role in this community building. It’s important that you view these team events and culture building not as short-term diversions, but rather as a core part of what your organization represents.
“Each individual owes it to their teammates — and ultimately themselves — to make the effort.”
6. How to Run a Collaborative Roadmapping Exercise with Your Team
Why I Like It: If you’re like me, you never ran a remote roadmapping exercise before 2020. Sure, we occasionally had a colleague who dialed or Zoomed in, but the session was far from remote-friendly.
Read this breakdown from ProductPlan and learn how you can deliver a more effective roadmap planning session remotely and keep on track to reach your organization’s goals.
7. How to Be a Great Remote Product Manager
Why I Like It: Being a great Remote Product Manager is as much about the things that you don’t do as the things you do.
Avoid faux-pas that irritate your teams and other Product Managers and also avoid burnout with these simple to digest tips and tricks.
Disclaimer: The author of this post wrote How to Be a Great Remote Product Manager
8. Working Across Land and Sea: Tips for Remote Communication
Why I Like It: I really enjoyed this post from Jack Jenkins at Intercom, who’s worked remotely for more than 7 years. He captures tips that I feel incredibly passionate about like “Assuming Positive Intent” and “Clarifying Ambiguity.”
If adopted successfully, these tips will help your organization become more positive and optimistic (even in tough times) and also help you avoid wasting time on asynchronous “slack tag.”
9. Product Judgment: How Some People Can Repeatedly Create Product Success
Why I Like It: While this specific post isn’t about remote work or dealing with change, it’s lessons about building strong Product Judgement are incredibly helpful, whether you are in a disrupted world or a peaceful, calm one.
Product intuition is often viewed as a “you have it or you don’t” skill, but this belief is far from the truth. You can learn Product Judgement.
How? It is obtained through direct experiences with customers. It’s that simple. Spend more time with customers and you’ll learn more about what matters for your product. It will become intuitive.
10. How to Keep Your Customers at the Center During Turbulent Times
Why I Like It: During turbulent times, it’s even more important to focus on your customers and keep them at the center of everything you do.
Shane Murphy-Reuter does a fantastic job in this post explaining the concept of Customer Impact and how you can manage your relationships with customers when everything around them (and you) is changing.
It starts with taking early and decisive action, communicating proactively, adding value (not just noise), and stepping up and helping out where you can.
What Great Pandemic Posts for PMs Did I Miss?
Let me know in the comments or on Twitter at @amitch5903!