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Managing product features and launches: a runner’s training plan

Learn from one of Workable's Senior Product Managers how interval training, long runs, hill workouts, easy runs, and tapering translate into strategic product management. Embrace this unique approach for a well-balanced, effective strategy, ensuring your product's enduring success and peak performance.

Anthoula Poniraki
Anthoula Poniraki

Anthoula is a Senior Product Manager at Workable with a diverse background in the tech industry.

Ever since I started running and training for road races, I find myself drawing parallels between my journey into the dynamic world of run training and the ever-changing landscape of product management.

Then, all of a sudden, everything starts clicking!

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Today’s adventure involves exploring how I – and many product managers like me – navigate the challenges of prioritizing feature requests.

I like picturing this like I am using a toolkit of run training techniques, making sure our product is always geared up and ready for the race ahead. Just like – as a runner – I carefully plan my training routine for a race, as a product manager I strategically prioritize features to ensure our product is always ready to tackle the challenges ahead.

So, grab your running shoes and let’s take a jog through the world of feature prioritization. It’s like a casual run training in the park, but for products (or any kind of management, really!). Ready? Let’s go!

Related: The court of collaboration: thriving as a product manager

1. Interval training: Addressing immediate needs

In the realm of running, interval training involves alternating between high and low-intensity bursts. Just like the ebb and flow of interval training in my running routine, I tackle urgent user needs in my role as a Product Manager.

Prioritizing features that hold immediate value and are frequently requested feels a lot like the high-energy intervals of a run – where every stride is purposeful.

These features are the equivalent of finding the perfect running route or hitting a personal best during a race. They’re the sprint intervals that move a product manager closer to the finish line of an exceptional user experience.

2. Long runs: strategic vision and comprehensive features

Picture our product development journey as a vibrant landscape, where just like in my favorite running routine, long runs take center stage helping me build endurance and stamina.

As both a Product Manager and an enthusiastic runner, I see these long runs as more than just a training backbone — they’re like the heart and soul of our strategic game plan.

In the world of features, I approach them with the same spirit. Prioritizing isn’t just a tactical move; it’s a commitment to our product’s long-term vision and strategic goals.

These features are the stretches of our development journey, carefully planned and executed to align with our product’s strategy and vision. It’s not just about the run; it’s about the joy of a sustained, successful pace.

3. Hill training: conquering challenges

In running, hill training is essential for building strength and mastering tricky terrain. Similarly, as a PM, I like to approach challenges in a similar way, prioritizing features that tackle complex issues head-on.

Think of these as uphill sprints in our development process — each one not only enhances the product’s capabilities but also helps us overcome obstacles in the competitive landscape.

It’s about building the stamina to navigate the twists and turns, ensuring our product stands strong in the face of challenges.

4. Easy runs: low-effort, high-impact features

Easy runs are not just about covering miles; they play a crucial role in recovery and rejuvenation. It’s important to embrace a comparable strategy in the product management world by prioritizing low-effort, high-impact features.

These carefully chosen additions bring significant value without imposing undue strain on our resources, allowing the team to recover while still making steady progress in moving the product forward.

Think of it like those refreshing pauses during an easy run, where both the body and mind get a chance to recalibrate before tackling the next challenging stretch. These low-effort, high-impact features serve as our rejuvenation phase.

They ensure our development journey remains sustainable, energized, and conducive to long-term success. It’s about recognizing the importance of balance, acknowledging that recovery is just as vital as the strides we take towards progress.

5. Tapers: focusing on refinement

As both a Product Manager and a passionate runner, I see the flow of race preparation reflected in our product development cycles. Just like I’d incorporate tapering to peak before a race, as a Product Manager I like to embrace my own version of “tapers.”

In the running world, tapering involves strategically reducing mileage to optimize performance on race day. Likewise, during our “taper” phases in product management , the team focuses intently on refinement.

It’s a process where we fine-tune existing features, ensure optimal performance, and eliminate any remaining bugs, sculpting our product into a polished and efficient gem.

Just as I’d aim for peak performance at the starting line at a race, our ‘taper’ moments are designed to ensure our product is finely tuned and ready to shine when it matters most.

It’s about hitting the sweet spot, where every stride in development leads to a product that’s not just efficient but truly exceptional.

Product management needs a well-balanced training plan

Just as a successful runner incorporates a variety of training techniques to prepare for a race, product managers strategically prioritize features to keep their product in peak condition.

By embracing intervals for quick wins, planning long runs for sustained success, conquering uphill challenges, focusing on easy runs for efficiency and incorporating tapers for refinement and fine-tuning, we ensure a well-balanced and effective training plan for our product.

So, whether you’re hitting the pavement or the product backlog, remember: every feature prioritized is a step closer to achieving your product management race goals.

Happy running, and may your products always cross the finish line with success!

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