Product Management from the Lens of a Runner
RockyRunz running a marathon

I am a marathon runner.

Running makes me feel like a bird flying in the open sky with endless opportunities. Strides while running make me feel like a bird spreading its wings depicting openness to taking risks in a world full of uncertainties. Bird is trying to reach a destination within a specific timeframe. There could be several challenges that may prevent this bird from reaching its destination or may cause a delay such as bad weather, exhaustion, attack by an eagle. Then how should this bird plan to reach its destination on time and unharmed?


Let us see how this example can be tied to digital product management:

Target metrics: To quality for an elite and world renounced race, 26.2 miles (42.164 km) needs to be covered within 3 hours depending upon your age range <Yes, the decimals are important as not everyone completes this race>

Baseline metrics: Let’s assume that I can cover 26.2 miles in 3 hours 30 minutes <According to RunRepeat, The world’s average finish time of a marathon in 2019 was 4:29:53. >

Gap in metrics: To qualify for this elite race, I need to cover the gap of 30 minutes within 3 hours at a qualifying event

What is the Product here: I am <running skills, stamina, physique, positive frame of mind>

Common mistake: Not seeking help (asking stakeholders) is one of the key aspects that is often taken for granted in product management. When I started running, I had no formal training. I just ran fast and continuous in few marathons as if nothing could stop me till a running injury hit me. Had no clue on what went wrong or if anything could have been done to prevent the injury. I visited a doctor who prescribed rest and few exercises. I was back to running in a few weeks. Participated in another marathon a few months out and the pain was back on the same spot. I somehow completed the race (looks like there was hardly any change in input metrics hence the pain was back). While I was returning home on foot in full marathon gear, an empathetic person saw me limping on the sidewalk. She immediately saw through my struggle, diagnosed the situation, and offered to help. Did my due diligence to find that she is an awesome runner and a coach. She agreed to be my running coach.

Stakeholders: Stakeholders who can help me achieve this goal could be (a) my running coach (to ensure that I follow along on all the inputs metrics that she provides for my training regimen), (b) my Physio (to ensure that I follow up on all the exercises that she prescribes), (c) Sponsor (if I win a local racing event, it is possible that a company may sponsor my running outfit when I compete for more races), (d) my running crew (who provides encouragement and support throughout the preparation to my race)

Input metrics: If I keep following the same routine, I will get same results with minor improvements. Hence, to achieve my running goal, I need to relook at the input metrics. Input metrics can include several things such as (a) change in diet, (b) additional/different trainer (I am happy with my trainer), (c) different exercise regimen, (d) use of technology <shoes to guide me over Bluetooth if my strides are too long for my pace>, (e) different outfit (shoes, shirt, shorts), (f) few factors may not need a change example socks, cap, (g) and many more

Prioritization: Out of so many input metrics, it is difficult to focus on all input metrics together due to time, money, and scope constraints hence we (my stakeholders and I) need to pick which input metrics will have the maximum impact on the target metrics hence we start work from there

Information overload: With so much unfiltered information over the internet and unsolicited advice on how to improve running, it is easy to get distracted. Hence, the need to focus on input metrics and tracking the improvement via target metrics is essential. In addition, openness to getting coached is important else you will keep getting the same results (target metrics) if you continue to do same things (input metrics)


Focus onsolving problems that matter


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