Inspiration: There cannot be a stressful crisis next week...

There cannot be a stressful crisis next week. My schedule is already full.—Henry Kissinger

Henry Alfred Kissinger is a German-born American writer, political scientist, diplomat, and businessman. A recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, he served as National Security Advisor and later concurrently as Secretary of State in the administrations of Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford. After his term, his opinion was still sought by some subsequent US presidents and other world leaders. Learn more...

A recent survey reveals product managers and product marketing managers spend 46% of their time in firefighting. With so much time focused on operational issues and emergencies, when are you going to work on the critical core documents that drive your product strategically?

Let's look ahead just a bit. Sometime in the next few months, you'll need to prepare a business case or a product plan or a strategic roadmap. The usual approach is to pull a few all-nighters and hope you don't get tagged by anyone for additional detail. However, I've always kept a binder (or a folder) filled with the living documents of my product. A financial plan, a prioritized backlog, personas, positioning, roadmap.

Start working on those now! Complete one document at a time.

And then when it's crunch time, if you've been working on the core items of the business of your product, it's more of a copy-and-paste exercise. It's edit, not compose. Much easier.

In my coaching sessions, I help teams identify which activities are important and then assess how well they're being done--not surprisingly, the most important product activities are usually the ones which are being done poorly. With a simple red-yellow-green indicator, we can identify which activities need our attention. My goal is to help teams turn those important areas to green--showing a high level of performance.