Institute of Product Leadership
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How to Prioritize when Everything is Important

By Manisha Gupta, Senior Director, Product Management and Analytics, Oracle

Working with creative people opens the channel of numerous prolific ideas. Some of them, feeding on excitement and vision, fade away in the fog of uncertainty, and few, become the spring of new beginnings. This is how organizations and leaders push themselves beyond the boundaries of status- quo and touch new ceilings.

For Manisha Gupta—Senior Director, Product Management and Analytics, Oracle—having such creative atmosphere is a blessing for product managers as they have responsibilities of doing more with less. However, the art of seizing the opportunity and sequencing “what to do first” is a product manager’s craft that stems from years of experience and wisdom.

Shedding more light through an analogy Manisha delineates, “Consider a military plane, which is going down after suffering seven malfunction strokes. Together, the 20 onboard soldiers can fix the flaws, but first it is the captain’s job to identify and prioritize the glitches.” Likewise, in the product management space, knowing solutions is not enough; identifying the sequence of implementing solutions and tasks is also vital to establish a common ground.

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Breaking the Silos

Manisha calls this strategy “A Single List of Prioritize Investments”. She reckons that in every company she has worked, whether a startup or a Fortune 500, employees always had some plans or ideas in the best interest of their departments. It’s a good thing to stimulate a productive environment and breed leaders in the vicinity.

However, a product manager like she had to keep those agendas in check that are in mutual agreement of individuals from all walks of departments. “Then we move down to sequencing the plans by weighing their importance. It could be the platform, customers or exploring big bets based on their immediate impacts on buyer’s and user’s needs,” says Manisha. Following such strategy can benefit product managers and cross-functional leaders to discover the areas of investments, allocate budgets, and create efficient roadmaps.

Embracing Change

The cycle of creating a list, juggling priorities, and defining the roadmap should be perpetual. Each phase is a parameter to measure current growth and a reflection of future success. Product managers should take concrete factors into account such as past experience and customer feedback before executing new plan of actions. Both are important pieces of massive product puzzle as they give a perspective to fathom previous agendas, their influence, and whether there is a need to reshuffle the priority list.

“Staying patient and persistent stapled with clarity of vision is also critical for the long-run success in product space,” says Manisha. Product managers should trust their gut, and if data validates their foresight, they shouldn’t fear running into the wall during campaigns.


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