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What to Do When Your Job Becomes Firefighting

Exploring strategies for product managers to handle constant crises and stay focused on long-term goals.

If product management were an Olympic sport, it might be less about the marathon and more about hurdling through a maze of fire rings. Some days, it feels like your entire job is just putting out fires. But fear not, for there are ways to turn down the heat and get back to what you do best: building great products.

Recognize the Patterns

First things first, identify if there's a pattern to these crises. Are they stemming from a particular team, process, or phase in the product lifecycle? Use AI-powered tools to analyze feedback and incident reports. Understanding the root cause can help you address the underlying issues rather than just treating the symptoms.

Prioritize Ruthlessly

Not all fires are created equal. Some are mere sparks, while others are full-blown infernos threatening to derail your product. Develop a prioritization framework that helps you quickly assess the severity and impact of each issue. This is where your backlog becomes your best friend. Utilize AI to help sort and rank these issues, ensuring you’re focusing on what truly matters.

Build a Buffer

Firefighting often happens because there's no buffer in your schedule. Incorporate buffer time into your planning to accommodate unexpected issues. This could mean less time on new features, but it’s a worthwhile trade-off to maintain stability. Remember, a calm team is a productive team.

Strengthen Your Processes

Recurrent fires are often a sign of weak processes. Conduct regular retrospectives and use AI-driven insights to pinpoint inefficiencies. Improve your design, engineering, and feedback loops. Automation can also play a crucial role here; by automating repetitive tasks, you free up more time for strategic thinking and problem-solving.

Empower Your Team

A single firefighter can only do so much. Empower your team to handle issues independently. Foster a culture where team members feel responsible for the product's success and are equipped to deal with problems as they arise. Regular training and clear communication channels can make a world of difference.

Communicate Transparently

When things are ablaze, keeping everyone in the loop is essential. Transparent communication with stakeholders helps manage expectations and prevents the spread of panic. Use your roadmap and changelog effectively to keep everyone updated on progress and setbacks.

Leverage AI for Continuous Improvement

Finally, lean on AI to continuously improve. AI can predict potential issues before they become critical and provide data-driven insights to guide your decisions. Eververse’s suite of tools is designed to help product managers stay ahead of the curve, so make sure you’re leveraging all the resources at your disposal.

Firefighting may never entirely disappear from the product management landscape, but with the right strategies and tools, you can certainly keep the flames under control. Here’s to a calmer, more focused approach to building amazing products.

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