How to do "top-down" right in product management
The most toxic words in product management: top down. Every PM has suffered from a different “top down” situation. Management-defined roadmaps. C-level feature setting, CEO/founder impulses. Roadmaps defined by committee. This is what destroyed “top down”.
But in product, top down is necessary. Without it, most teams will be building all over the place, without focus, lacking progress.
Now I don’t mean the “tactical” top down, but a strategic one. Focused in opportunities. The “top” has a unique view of the strategic bets that have the highest probability of delivering the outcomes. Think opportunities as:
- Accelerate market expansion
- Improve economics of a revenue stream
- Launch a new business line
None of these are prescribed solutions. They are playing fields. They outline the mission that feeds the tactic. They kickstart the discussion “What resources, timelines and scopes do you believe will best tackle these opportunities?”
But to make it clear: I am a firm believer that the “top” isn’t the best group of people to know what solutions will work best to achieve the outcomes. The best teams thrive when their management teams empower them to build the tactics, ideate the solution, and choose the bets that “will seize the opportunity”.
When properly executed, top-down can be a force multiplier.