Sense of Urgency

Over the years, I have often been asked what makes a product manager successful.  To me it is very clear, successful marketers get work done and do it well ahead of schedule.  Those who make it look easy and fun get promoted!  Those that don’t, don’t.

This weekend there was an interesting article in the New York Times on procrastination (view article here) that is so relevant to this topic.  The cost of procrastination, to the individual and to the business, is very significant with data showing that workers “waste” two hours every day on non-work tasks.  The article discusses two major reasons this happens.  The first concern is, workers are overwhelmed with multiple assignments and they almost freeze and complete nothing. The second issue is around perfectionism, where nothing gets done because it never becomes good enough for the perfectionist.

These issues are so relevant to pharmaceutical marketers.  First, with recent downsizings there are fewer people to do the same amount of work.  Managers talk about doing less but then they really seem to expect more.  Marketers, when faced with demands from the sales team, outside vendors and their advertising agencies have a hard time prioritizing what is really important and so they try to do everything.  They often lack the confidence and wisdom to know when to say no.

On the other end of the spectrum is the issue around perfectionism.  Product managers are typically high performers who have succeeded by doing things better than others.  This challenge, of always being better, can result in paralysis rather than results. The article states, “The most productive people tend to focus on progress rather than perfection.”

So how do successful marketers do it.  First, they recognize that business is not helped until projects get executed.  They believe that what they do really does matter and that the sooner their work hits the market the sooner business improves.  Secondly,  they only do work that will impact the business, and refuse to do things that are not critically important.  Finally, before starting, they plan.  They look for agency and vendor partners who work even more efficiently than they do.  They simplify the project, eliminating the fluff that doesn’t add value, and they design the work so it can easily get through the review process and out to the customer.

Does time really matter?  The customer world is changing by the minute.  It seems absurd to respond to these changes and challenges with projects that take months to develop.  Projects that are needed today typically have little value a few months from now.  That is the dilemma.  Working with a “Sense of Urgency” should become everyone’s mantra, because, really is there any other way?

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