Jenny Cox
February 18, 2022

Don’t paralyze yourself with the fear of never getting it wrong

When I first started working in product management, I felt constantly afraid that I might make the wrong decision - and yet I was supposed to lead almost constant decision-making.

I've since seen this fear reflected over and over again in product management professionals. People are afraid to publish their roadmap - even internally - because they fear the scrutiny of others who live to poke holes or the scope creep of additional features that they haven’t had time to absorb, vet, and validate with real people.

Another common fear is the endless re-prioritization conversations that block PMs from getting traction in the market and with users. This fear is compounded by crushing timelines and deadlines that never seem to adjust in the face of more information.

It’s common for product managers to feel afraid of being wrong about what to build or research.

I’ve been seeing “product-led” everywhere recently but what does being “product-led” really mean beneath taglines, metrics, process, tools? To me it means two things :

  1. Letting go of the fear of never getting it wrong. Getting it wrong and realizing it will be okay and you will find a path forward is the most important part of learning and building iteratively.
  2. Where appropriate and helpful, taking an opinionated stand on “the right” and “the wrong” way to do things. Making plans with the explicit goal to execute versus endlessly revisit is one of these things.

Product development and research priorities should not change more than every 6-12 weeks. Once the quarterly or bi-quarterly plan is locked, there should be no unwinding.

Barring major unforeseen corporate or market events, no one, EVEN product leadership or a product-minded CEO / founder, should interject more than (bi-) quarterly into product priorities. Excepting events like an acquisition or an IOS change that completely breaks your product, re-prioritization should be on a set schedule informed by learnings from the previous 6-12 weeks of execution.

Appropriate time should be set aside ahead of each quarter - on the order of 2-4 weeks depending on the number of stakeholders and complexity of the technology - to set the direction for the subsequent quarter.


A plan is an intention or decision about what you are going to do.

Plans may fail contact with execution but they need that opportunity.

Not getting the chance to execute a great plan is worse than executing and learning from a mediocre plan.

Don't paralyze yourself with endless re-prioritization. You might be wrong. Trust yourself to be wrong, realize it, adapt and adjust your plan, and continue forward.

We’re building products to help people think, assess, decide, communicate, and build.