Edited excerpt from How to say “No” to your CEO’s random product ideas by Brian de Haaf, CEO of Aha!:
As the lead product manager, you hear about the “great new idea” on a daily basis from every team. Each person making suggestions seems to have good reasons why you should add their idea to the product roadmap. Here’s how to say “no”:
1. Goal first. Set your product strategy and then be proactive about communicating it within the rest of the organization. Define your vision and make sure everyone understands it, then your strategy can say, “No” for you.
2. Score ideas. You should rank features and prioritize the ones that will have the greatest impact on the product and the company.
3. Share your roadmap. Our product team shares our roadmap regularly with the entire organization. This ensures that we are all on the same page and working towards the same goals and initiatives.
(1) There’s some valuable advice here, but the mindset of the article — how to say “no” — seems wrong to me. Instead, consider Sam Altman’s advice for product managers to “listen to everyone, then make your own decision”, and Seth Godin’s approach in When you’re given advice, here’s how to listen with an open mind.
(2) I’m a skeptic of product roadmaps. At Seeking Alpha, we find that long roadmaps make little sense. It you have a product roadmap stretching out six months, for example, that’s the same as saying “No feedback from customers or the market, and no results of any tests will impact what we do for the next six months.” That’s obviously crazy.
(3) Instead, a better approach is to have only your top three or five ideas ready for testing or launching. You can revise the list right up until the last moment before development. All your other ideas should be kept in a list — and you can score them there, as Brian de Haaf suggests. So I’d change his third suggestion to “Share your idea list”.
(4) Cf. The best growth teams maximize the velocity of tests and Why another new feature won’t get people to use your product.