Product Management: Resiliency & COVID-19
Author: Noah J. Bucholtz
Resiliency may be defined as the ability to recover from or adjust easily to adversity and change1. At this moment in time, the product management space is relying on resilience, possibly more than ever. The ability to stay relevant as a non-essential product is being tested and has required product managers to think both efficiently and effectively.
What makes resiliency so important right now is that the challenges being faced as a result of COVID-19 have no official end date. It is the businesses that have the ability to shift and remain focused on their core values, rather than just their core business that will continue. You will see teams creating a larger focus on the target audience and strengthening their ability to meet short-term solutions, which will lead to stabilization in the long term.
Opportunities to become more resilient can be found and created in many ways. Right now, product managers have to be more involved in the human component of their product and to meet the changing needs during the pandemic. This type of change could come in the form of a stopgap. A stopgap allows limited change to the actual product and focuses on solutions such as price sensitivity, modifications to products, and free delivery.
Take AirBnB's latest product offerings for example. As a result of the pandemic, the company was no longer able to provide customers with their usual accommodation services. So instead, the company began offering monthly stays, donated housing to frontline workers, and online services which include live, interactive video sessions with select travel hosts. AirBnB was able to take the unfortunate circumstances of the pandemic and pivot their product plan to continue offering unique and global experiences for their customers.
Once a stopgap has concluded, going back to ‘normal’ will be the most tempting, whatever our new normal may be. However, before this can happen, managers must re-strategize, focus on their long-term goals, and review how these plans have changed throughout the pandemic. For some, drastic changes may be required for their product and will result in stockouts, as well as building new products or features. These past few months have made managing products more challenging than anyone expected, but the resiliency teams establish post-crisis will be what results in long-term success.
1. Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, s.v. “resiliency,” accessed June 20, 2020, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/resiliency.