Don’t waste a perfectly good crisis.
Crisis creates a brief moment of opportunity for early-stage product leaders.
Suddenly, reality comes crashing through the window. We see with uncomfortable clarity how our actions, decisions, and strategies panned out. And we’re hurting. A rockstar employee left. An amazing customer churned. The product had an embarrassingly long outage. A round of funding fell through. Layoffs happened (on our watch).
We’ve all been there, done that.
No one wants to be the leader when these times come.
But, when crisis comes, opportunity comes with it.
Crisis & opportunity are companions that often travel together.
For one, our teams are more open to learn and change after crisis.
Yes, you have to deal with whatever the issue is. But, beyond that, think about the lesson that can be learned, the cultural adjustment that needs to be made, the new process or policy that can finally be put in place, the optimism that needs to be right-sized, the “hope” that needs to become a “plan”, the strategic flaw that needs to be recognized, the hard conversation that needs to (finally) be had.
As an early-stage product leader you lead by influence, not authority. The initiatives that face major resistance in times of peace, are often met with open ears after crisis. Crisis opens ears and minds in a unique way. It’s much easier to sell insurance after a flood or a gym membership after a health scare.
So when crisis come, ask yourself:
> Where is the opportunity for this to make us better / stronger in the long run?
> What important lessons do we need to learn?
> What uncomfortable truths do we need to admit?
> What important changes need to be introduced (that were previously off limits)?
That’s how I approach crisis.
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