For most of us PMs, every day is an adventure like none other. The unique challenges of project, people and product progress that we need to make every day means we, as responsible PMs, do different things each day. One constant however, is that I always found myself operating in one of two modes - execution and vision mode.
Execution mode: In this mode, there’s no new product or strategic thinking that needs to be done. Most features are under development and apart from the occasional peek at metrics, most everyday tasks include providing minor product input, triaging bugs, emails and chat, taking stock of project status, sharing updates and, generally unblocking engineers.
Vision mode: Your only job is to dream. You are creating a narrative, setting a vision, defining objectives and outlining strategy. You are in a creative high and you feed off of the energy you put out yourself. All execution takes a back seat, DMs go unanswered and inboxes fill up.
In my experience as a PM, I find myself spending roughly 20% of my quarter (~3 working weeks) in vision mode and the rest executing. This is a big change from when I was an entrepreneur where I probably spent equal parts being in both modes. Sometimes, in the same day.
I absolutely love operating in vision mode. To me, this is the most rewarding thing as a PM. I appreciate that we have the privilege of operating in this mode and shifting priorities of our orgs/teams with our output. Every brainstorm meeting and design sprint that I have been part of, tries to channel the vision mode in everyone. It is tiring, very tiring - recall how you felt at the end of your last team design sprint or strategy meeting.
The best part of vision mode is what follows immediately. You selling your vision to your team. Putting your narrative in a doc/deck and pitching to your stakeholders. One feeling I really enjoy, is when I find consensus around my vision & plan. How “we” found a way forward and how it took one (sometimes three) days to get all the stakeholders to agree. That’s one of the wins as a PM.
Here are some of the things that work for me to maximize my output during my visioning time.