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Defend Your True North and Prioritize

Christian Byza

Senior Product Manager at LinkedIn

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Problem

"As a positive person, I tend to say, 'Yes,' by default. My wife says I give too much and take too little. In my professional career, this has been a weakness that I've needed to improve upon; because as a Product Manager, it's crucial to be able to prioritize and plan your work, resources and time."

Actions taken

"A True North is a conceptual vision or goal to which your team directs its efforts. As a horizontal product manager, this has been somewhat hard. I have many different priorities, and I need to identify what is most important."

"I do this by referring to my company's True North. Sometimes this is now also called a BHAG: Big Hairy Audacious Goal. Every day I have to think about the work ahead of me, and prioritize around my True North. I split the work down to different things. For example, I consider my OKRs in reference to that True North."

"I have found that I can stay focused by spending time each Sunday evening to think about what I actually need to accomplish in the coming week. I write this down in terms of PPP: progress, problems, plan and share the list with my manager. This way, every morning, I can ask myself if I have prioritized things that will allow me to success with those things I promised in the beginning of the week."

"Personally, this approach has forced me to face the challenge of saying, 'No', to people. I've picked up on some strategies for this by observing coworkers who seem to have it down. For example, in meetings, you can respond to an idea or proposition more elegantly by saying, 'Let's definitely get to this by the end of next quarter.' This way, it isn't your responsibility to follow up. If it's truly important, that person will come back around and ask again in two months; and perhaps by then, it will be the right time."

Lessons learned

  • It is crucial to plan your work, resources and time.
  • Streamline your planning process within your company so your goals and the goals of other teams will function together to reach your True North.
  • Prioritization requires saying, "No".

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Christian Byza

Senior Product Manager at LinkedIn


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