The difference between right and right now

If you want to be a bad product manager, insist that everything be done the best possible way as soon as possible. Quality is important, and if you start tolerating less than optimal solutions, that just sets the precedent that it’s appropriate to not always do things the best possible way. You shouldn’t have to choose between speed and quality for developing products — you need them both! When people give you estimates for how long things will take — always inflated, of course — it’s probably just cover for something they don’t know how to do or don’t want to. Keep a hard line on this and eventually they’ll come around.

If you want to be a good product manager, be clear about whether you want something done “right” or “right now.” In almost every case these two options exist (as well as potentially others). There are certain aspects of your product where you will want things to be done the “right” way — billing, auditing, and security are some possible examples. In other cases, there may be a quick solution to a problem that will work in the short-term but not be optimal in the long-term. Good product managers know to work with their delivery team to clarify the quick solution and ideal solution and understand what the benefits and drawbacks to each are to each.

Mature products often tend to have a focus on long-term solutions at the expense of speed; the products have been around for a while, after all, and the team has seen “quick fixes” come back to bit them. New products often to have a focus on quick delivery at the expense of long-term efficiency; the team is anxious to deliver and may assume that the hacks that are built in can be fixed at some point later. Good product managers can recognize these traps and ensure that conscious decisions are made to pursue either the “right” way of doing something or the “right now” way of doing it.