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23 Mar Proactive vs. Reactive — achieving the right balance of both

Predictive management not reactive management. Being a good reactive manager is to be admired. It means that you can calmly deal with surprises and quickly come up with solutions (rather than getting stuck looking for root causes). On the other hand, a person who practices predictive management might have been able to remove herself sufficiently enough so as to be able to see the problems arise in the first place. Really, like John Reh suggests, it takes a solid mix of the two to be an effective manager.

Product owners: it’s time to rethink reactive product management. It’s important to be proactive, to have a vision and a plan to make it happen. Or as Brad McCarty quotes “plan to work and work the plan”. But he also reminds us that you should also be prepared to be reactive. Without doing so, you won’t be able to respond to shifts in business focus, user feedback or major failures.

How to make sense of the firehose of ideas for your product. Oftentimes, being proactive means carefully not reacting to the firehose of feedback that will come your way each week. Instead you must foresee the types of requests that you will regularly receive and have a plan to deal with them. As Maddy Kirsch explains, “you can’t afford to prioritize a specific set of feedback just because it appears urgent”. Instead you should “ask yourself if implementing the suggestion or feedback will advance your product’s strategy”.

Lessons from 30 days in product management. Being proactive also means moving fast to get things done. Medha Ghatikesh gives us an example of how a ‘procrastinating manager’ can waste a whole day of a teammates productivity just by waiting to send an email. You must always think ahead and consider how your work, or lack of work, will affect things.

Paul McAvinchey
Paul McAvinchey
paulmcavinchey@gmail.com

Paul has spent over 15 years building and collaborating on digital products with the likes of AOL and WMS Gaming. Currently, he leads business development for DXY Solutions, a leading product design firm in the Midwest with a focus on building beautiful applications for connected devices. Previously, he led product development for MedCity Media, a publishing startup acquired by Breaking Media in 2015. He's also a founder of Product Collective, a new initiative to connect product people from across the world online and in person at INDUSTRY: The Product Conference held in Cleveland annually.

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