Tag Archives: planning

Eisenhower Productivity Box for Product Managers

120px-Dwight_D._Eisenhower,_White_House_photo_portrait,_February_1959

President Dwight Eisenhower was the 34th President of the United States. It is said that Eisenhower had an incredible ability to sustain his productivity almost throughout his illustrious career and life. He is famous for his productivity strategy, now known as Eisenhower box. This is a simple 2 x 2 matrix combining importance and urgency. I have tried creating one for Product Managers based on my experience.

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Let us start with the second quadrant; the tasks which are important but not urgent. They are usually strategic and long-term in nature. You must schedule and plan them. One way to make sure that you do concentrate on second quadrant tasks is to schedule the tasks much in advance on a calendar accessible by all the stakeholders so that you have a deadline for yourself and you will pay attention to these tasks.

The first quadrant items are the ones which eat-up your time. You cannot avoid them, but if you have spent enough time on the tasks in the second quadrant, then the ones in the first quadrant will at least not be a surprise. For example, if you prepare collaterals for stake-holders much in advance, then you can avoid surprises during the time of product release.

The one in the third quadrant is something that is mundane, can be automated or delegated. These have to be done, so that it helps you to accelerate the tasks in first two quadrants, but avoid doing the tasks here yourself. For example, if you need to conduct user testing, gathering participants must be delegated after you review the guideline for gathering participants.

Finally, the fourth quadrant. Things you must stop doing. Depending on your seniority, the content of this quadrant changes.

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The Chicken or the Egg?

I have been in this situation several times. If you work in product management, I am sure you have found yourself struggling to answer this – What comes first the Product or the Client? Let me elaborate – you have an innovative idea to create a new product or may be just to enhance the current offerings. Being a smart product manager (that you are) you have got a business case with cost-benefit analysis approved by key stakeholders. However, now you face the big dilemma where the technology resources who will be buidling your product are not available. And they won’t be available for next 3 months as they are working on other “high priority” projects that can be capitalized to bring in revenue. What do you do then? Do you put your awesome plan on hold or do you try to capitalize this product so that you can then secure resources for this product? Scary, right? Well, there is no right or wrong answer and hence the analogy!

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