Product

Starting your new job: 4 lessons in 4 weeks

You have four missions to complete in four weeks, should you wish to accept. Don’t forget to report back.

WEEK ONE

  • Your mission: grab a coffee each afternoon with someone in your team
  • Understand their role, experience and any key challenges they are facing
  • Ask how they think you can help them – if you are a product manager you can use this information to begin filling your backlog
  • Don’t stop at your own team – start doing the same thing with people in other teams around you

WEEK TWO

  • Your mission: understand your team’s mission and the workflow they are using to solve problems
  • You need to be crystal clear on what the mission is; if it’s not clear ask questions until it is
  • Understand how much influence your product team has; in my experience it is varies from organisation
  • Start to make some observations about where the work is coming from – is it beginning and ending with your team? Or does your team accept work from somewhere else and pass to other teams?
  • You are still new so it might be hard to come up with your own ideas but try to identify at least one key piece of work you can start exploring

WEEK THREE

  • Your mission: understand who your customers are
  • This is not product specific; it doesn’t matter what team you are in you have a customer that consumes your work
  • You may have both end user customers (eg. those using your banking app) and internal customers (those consuming your fortnightly village updates); you need to understand the needs and problems of both
  • Ok, this is not the fun part (it’s going to take more than 1 week) – start to find as much data as you can
  • How many customers do you have? What do your customers look like? How are they using your product? Is there any customer research available? Are you missing any key metrics?

WEEK 4

  • Your mission: start prioritising your workload & identifying next steps
  • By now it’s possible your to-do list is starting to grow so you need to get on top of it
  • Communicate with your manager; make sure they are aligned to your prioritised list
  • If you are working in an agile environment start to focus on clearly articulating the objectives for your epics of work and plan out your stories (it doesn’t have to be perfect)
  • If you are still feeling unsure about your work, keep focusing on the other things above and communicate your capacity and desire for more work


Well done, you’ve completed your mission. You may not have all the answers but your one step closer to your vision.


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