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My First 90 Day Priorities as a Lead Product Manager

11 September 2020 • Jennifer McDermott • Product

Next week I'll be starting a new role as a Lead Product Manager for a social enterprise in London. I was asked to present my 90 day priorities during the interview process, so thought it might be useful for me to both recap, and share on.

Framing your first 90 days as a product person is a bit like framing a short term product roadmap. Start with your goal, distill key focus areas, or problems to be solved, then, think about the tactics you might undertake.

What's my Goal?

It's easy to fall into the trap of "doing" very quickly, and my brain is always buzzing in the first week with assumptions as I take in lots of information. My goal might sound a bit obvious, but I find it's a useful way of checking in.

To get the goal, I thought about the goals of the organisation I would be joining. What problem(s) is the Lead PM solving for them? Here’s a generic example, revised from the goal I set myself:

"Build the right foundations so that I can drive positive impact for the customer and help the organisation evolve"

Problems to be Solved

I wanted to guide my thinking by distilling three key areas of focus. In no priority order:

1. Get to know the people, organisation and culture

2. Understand existing users and the market

3. Gain context on the product, how it aligns and how it works

1. Get to know the people, organisation and culture

I segmented this into three groups, my cross functional team, my product colleagues, and the wider organisation, as each has different learning objectives. I see this a bit like undertaking user research - to help frame what I might need to know and who I might need to speak to, I created a systematic learning and engagement plan.

This is certainly going to be a challenge with the remote working climate at the moment, so I'm interested to see how it pans out - if anyone has any remote relationship building tips in a new job please let me know!

 

Objective 1: Get to know my squad

These are the people I'll be working with all of the time, so I really want to get to know them personally, their background and experience - so we can figure out how to work together. 

Key result: Understand their motivations, experience and expertise

Key result: Understand how should I work with this team

 

Objective 2: Get to know my product colleagues

How can we work together? Ultimately, I want to adapt, but seek ways to add value.

Key result: Understand their motivations, experience and expertise. 

Key result: Learn from the other product teams - what's working well, what's not? 

Key result: Align on 30-60-90 day expectations with my manager

 

Objective 3: Build relationships across the organisation

Are there silos? Does everyone know their part in the strategy? Identify key people and ask questions via a series of informal 1:1 interviews.

Key result: Understand the mechanics of the business. 

Key result: Understand what's working well, and seek areas of opportunity for product process evolution

2. Understand existing users and the market

Understanding the users, potential users and wider market is critical to beginning to understand how my product is helping them achieve a goal.

 

Objective 1: Understand existing users

Who are they? What do we know about them so far, what secondary research can I utilise, who can I talk to, what don't we know?

Key result:  Review analytics and identify gaps

Key result:  Understand demographics, behaviours and segmentation 

Key result:  Learn from real users by actually talking to them

 

Objective 2: Identify their needs

Begin to do something with the learnings I've got - what needs are we prioritising and why?

Key result:  Form problem statements and jobs to be done 

Key result:  Understand which needs are being met

 

Objective 3: Understand the market

Form a body of knowledge about the industry and the market. How is this changing? This helps me to think about and discuss the longer term, bigger picture of my product area

Key result: Understand expectations, challenges and opportunities

Key result: Start to form questions about future needs 

3. Gain context on the product, how it aligns and how it works

The final of my three focus areas is the product. This isn't limited to the product that I’d be accountable for, I want to learn about it within the context of the organisational objectives and portfolio. 

I want to becoming the knowledge base on my product, it’s why, what and how, and this process takes shape in a sort of funnel. This is a result of learnings, conversations and product literature.

What why how product funnel strategy

Some key questions

These are the sorts of things I'll want to know, by talking to my team.

 

There's a lot here, but the value is really in the discussion and process. The process isn't done in a vacuum, it's done with the team and stakeholders - knowledge is much more valuable when it's shared, aligned and discussed. 

I'll know my goal is achieved when I can:

What's a 90 day priority plan without success metrics? 

I'll want to be able to:

 

I hope this was helpful for anyone out there looking to do a 90 day priority/plan as a product person!

 

Further reading recommendation: The First 90 Days - Proven Strategies for Getting Up to Speed Faster and Smarter, by Michael Watkins

Photo by Gaelle Marcel on Unsplash

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Jennifer McDermott

About Jennifer McDermott:

I'm a UK-based Northerner living in London. I work in Product Management, with a background in digital marketing. In my work, I enjoy building relationships and strategy. I'm also a bit of a nerd for social history, I play video games, and my favourite TV show will always be Buffy the Vampire Slayer. My happy places are Berlin (specifically) and Japan (generally).
Tweet me jenniferlucymcd