What Winston Churchill said about product launches

Did you know Winston Churchill was a closet product manager when it came to big product launches He’s quoted as saying:

Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.

Ok, I lied. 😉 While he was a famous leader, he wasn’t a PM as far as I know. But I did use his quote above in a team all-hands last week. Why? To give people some perspective. 

You see, the team is working on a big product launch that’s just around the corner. And product launches are hard! They take a lot of energy. Finishing features, fixing bugs, making hard cuts, stabilizing, perf testing, marketing, PR… 

And when a launch happens, it can feel exhilarating! 🚀 Finally, the world can use what the team worked so hard on! Tweets, press releases, and news articles galore!

But as Churchill states, that’s just the end of the beginning. After you launch a product you can finally:

  1. Get usage data
  2. Run A/B tests
  3. Get feedback from a much wider audience
  4. Build those fast follows you had to cut for launch
  5. Embark on a longer-term product strategy

And more…

A launch is a great milestone for a team and a product, but it’s just the end of the beginning. After launch, the real work begins. 💪 

Prioritize your time with the Eisenhower matrix

A framework I keep coming back to for prioritizing my time as a product manager is the Eisenhower matrix for prioritizing one’s work.

The framework is simple. There are two dimensions to the work on your plate: urgency and importance. And there are two values for each dimension: urgent and not, important and not.

As tasks are added to your plate, or as you get asked to do things by others, consider where they fall in the matrix.

Then, you can take action based on what cell they are in.

– Important + urgent tasks need to be done now. Go do them!
– Important + not urgent tasks need to be done, but not right now. Schedule a time to do them!
– Urgent but not important tasks aren’t important to you but are important to someone else. Find the right person who can help, or give out the information that someone can use to address the task on their own.
– Finally, don’t do things that are neither important nor urgent.

I’ve seen people spend a lot of time on tasks that aren’t important or aren’t urgent, to the detriment of their products.

It feels good to turn the crank and get stuff done, but make sure you’re focused on the right things first!

Don’t piss off your power users

I’m one of those weirdos that listens to podcasts at twice the normal speed. I do this because I listen to hours of podcasts a week, and I consume them more quickly this way.

I use Apple’s Podcasts app to listen on my iPhone. When I recently upgraded my iPhone to the beta of iOS 14.3, I was surprised to find this 2x playback feature broken. No matter what setting I chose, podcasts would play at regular speed.


Needless to say, I was quite disappointed. This bug effectively cut my listening efficiency in half. Plus, suddenly everyone seemed to speak s-o s-l-o-w-l-y.

While this was a bug, and Apple did fix it a few days ago, let’s imagine it wasn’t. What if Apple decided to remove this feature intentionally? After all, most people listen to podcasts at normal speed. Those weirdos like me are just the small minority of outlier users. Apple needs to focus on the mainstream, right?

Not quite.

Power users are free advertising. They laud your product to others. They email you feedback at 3AM. They buy a lot of your products. They’re a small minority of your user base but wield an outsized level of influence over the success of your product.

The 2x playback feature is an example of a power user feature. It’s something most people don’t use. But of those that do, chances are they’re fairly serious about podcast consumption. Take a feature like this away intentionally, and those users will, at minimum, likely complain loudly and switch quickly to another podcast app.

The moral of this anecdote: when looking at features to add, extend, or remove from your product, don’t just look at how frequently the feature is used. Also look at the broader behaviors of the users using that feature, including level of engagement. If you have a small group of users enthusiastically using a feature, don’t take it away. You’ll just piss them off.