Achieving a perfectly organised life may seem like an idealistic notion for most of us. The truth is, life is inherently unpredictable, and regardless of how well-prepared you are, unexpected challenges will inevitably arise. Especially if you’re a product manager…
However, by adopting a framework of principles, you can establish a solid foundation to support an organised life.
A framework can be defined as the fundamental structure that underlies a system, concept, or text. It serves as a reference point, enabling you to quickly recognize when you've deviated from your intended path and providing you with the necessary tools and structures to realign yourself.
Think of this framework as a map that guides you toward your desired destination—a Utopia of sorts. Having clear directions is far more effective than aimlessly navigating without specific goals or desired outcomes.
Good news - there are numerous frameworks out there to help you navigate through challenges like a boss. We've selected 10 frameworks to help you organise your time, resources, and improve your productivity.
Furthermore, the great news is that these frameworks can be particularly beneficial for product managers. You might be wondering how exactly they can assist in this role.
Let's delve into a few key aspects that a framework can help you enhance:
One of the most significant advantages of constant learning and growth is increased productivity. By continually developing your skills and knowledge, you can become more efficient in your work, leading to higher-quality output and greater efficiency.
Another benefit of continuous self-improvement is improved decision-making. It provides a broader perspective and more knowledge to draw from, enabling you to make better decisions.
Adaptability is also crucial, as business and product management are dynamic fields that are constantly evolving. If you are committed to continuous learning and development, you will stay current with the latest changes and will be able to adapt to new situations better.
Career advancement is another benefit of continuous self-improvement. Employers value employees who are committed to personal and professional development. By continuously improving, you can increase marketability and advance in your career.
Improved collaboration presents another notable advantage within our field, as individuals cultivate stronger relationships with colleagues, customers, and partners by refining their communication and interpersonal skills.
Lastly, it is important to acknowledge that continuous self-improvement within an organisation also fosters innovation as a significant outcome. By generating new ideas and approaches, teams who are committed to learning and growth can inspire new and innovative solutions to business challenges.
Our selection of models for Self-improvement
Success requires more than just hard work and determination.
It demands a deep understanding of complex problems, the ability to make tough decisions, collaboration, and a commitment to continuous self-improvement and staying up to date with the market.
To help you meet these challenges head-on, we've curated a selection of powerful models that can unlock productivity, foster innovation, and drive success.
Nonetheless, we recognize that many in our sector already possess these qualities.
That is why we have not selected models solely focused on uncovering new perspectives. Instead, we have chosen models that not only enable you to explore fresh viewpoints but also enhance and refine your existing capabilities.
1 - The Eisenhower Matrix: Improving your efficiency
The Eisenhower Matrix, also known as the Urgent-Important Matrix, is a powerful tool for improving efficiency and productivity.
Developed by former US President Dwight D. Eisenhower, the matrix helps teams prioritise tasks based on their urgency and importance. It is a simple but effective way to manage time and focus on what matters, inserting tasks into four specific quadrants.
- The top left quadrant contains tasks that are both urgent and important.
These tasks should be given the highest priority and addressed immediately.
This quadrant includes tasks such as urgent deadlines and crises.
- The top right quadrant contains tasks that are important but not urgent.
These tasks require proactive attention and should be given a high priority, but can be scheduled for later. This quadrant includes tasks such as planning, relationship building, and long-term goal setting.
- The bottom left quadrant contains tasks that are urgent but not important.
These tasks should be addressed quickly, but not at the expense of more important tasks. They can be delegated or outsourced if possible. This quadrant includes tasks such as interruptions, meetings, or emails.
- Finally, the bottom right quadrant contains tasks that are neither urgent nor important. These tasks should be avoided as much as possible, as they can consume valuable time and energy.
This quadrant includes tasks like trivial tasks or distractions, like browsing social media and watching TV.
By using the Eisenhower Matrix, teams can become more efficient and effective in their work. They can prioritise their tasks based on what is truly important, rather than simply reacting to urgent requests and distractions.
This can lead to higher quality output, greater efficiency, and reduced stress.
Choose this framework if you think you need to adjust your focus on what truly matters and learn to prioritise tasks based on their urgency and importance.
2 - The SWOT analysis: improving your solution-making skills
S.W.O.T. analysis is a comprehensive framework, whose name is an acronym for the features it will help you evaluate: Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats, involved in a project or business.
It is a powerful tool that helps companies or teams to identify the key factors that affect the success of their endeavours and on which they should focus.
The concept of SWOT analysis was developed in the 1960s by Albert Humphrey, a management consultant at the Stanford Research Institute. Humphrey and his team were researching Fortune 500 companies to help them align their objectives with their actual implementation. During this process, they found that many companies faced a significant gap between their objectives and implementation, all due to unclear goals and ambiguous directions.
Once they identified this problem, the team built the SWOT analysis framework.
This helped clarify the goals of the project and identify the factors that could impact its success.
By dividing and identifying internal and external factors, it became easier to evaluate the project’s strengths and weaknesses, assess opportunities, and anticipate potential threats.
But it’s enough with theory, let’s look at how to build one.
The SWOT analysis framework is typically depicted as a four-quadrant matrix, with the internal factors (strengths and weaknesses) on the left side and the external factors (opportunities and threats) on the right side.
Strengths are internal factors that give teams a competitive advantage over others, like:
- Strong financial resources
- High level of expertise or skill
- Strong brand reputation
- Efficient processes or systems
Weaknesses are internal factors that put a team at a disadvantage, such as:
- Limited financial resources
- Lack of expertise or skill
- Poor brand reputation
- Inefficient processes or systems
Opportunities are external factors that a team can capitalise on to achieve their goals, like:
- Emerging markets or industries
- Changing consumer preferences
- Technological advancements
- Changes in regulations or policies
Threats are external factors that may prevent a team from achieving their goals, such as:
- Competition from established companies or individual team members
- Economic downturns
- Natural disasters or unexpected events
- Changes in regulations or policies
It is important to note that a SWOT analysis should be an ongoing process, not a one-time exercise. Regularly conducting a SWOT analysis can help teams stay up-to-date with the changing business environment, adapt to new challenges and opportunities, and make strategic decisions that maximise their chances of success.
3- The BCG box: improving your resources and investment management
Managing your finances effectively is crucial for shaping your overall life trajectory. While it may not be an immediate concern, it is essential to develop the skills to allocate a portion of your income towards savings and understand how money can generate more wealth. This is where the BCG box can be a valuable tool to assist you in this process.
The BCG matrix, developed by the Boston Consulting Group in the 1970s, is a decision-making framework that helps businesses evaluate their product portfolio and make strategic decisions about resource allocation.
It categorises a company's products into one of four categories: stars, cash cows, question marks, and dogs, based on their market share and growth rate.
- Stars are products with high market share and growth rates. Although they require significant investment to maintain growth, they have the potential to become cash cows in the future.
- Cash cows, on the other hand, have a high market share but a low growth rate, generating significant revenue and profit for the business with the minimal investment needed to maintain their position in the market.
- Question marks have low market share but high growth potential, and require significant investment to increase their market share and become stars. However, if they are not profitable, they may be discontinued.
- Lastly, dogs have low market share and low growth rates, generating little revenue and profit for the business. They should either be divested or repositioned to become more profitable.
This framework can be used by businesses in several ways.
First, it can be used for portfolio analysis, providing a clear picture of a business's product portfolio and helping managers make strategic decisions about resource allocation.
Second, it can be used for product development, either investing in question marks with high potential or maintaining cash cows.
Finally, it can help businesses allocate their resources effectively by focusing on products with high potential and minimising investment in those with low potential.
However, it also has limitations being a simplistic framework.
For example, it may not be suitable for complex businesses with multiple product lines and markets. It’s important to note its limited scope, only focused on market share and growth rate and not taking into account other factors such as competition, technological change, and consumer preferences.
Being a time-based framework, it does not take into account the dynamic nature of markets and the need for continuous innovation and change.
In the end, our advice would be to use the BCG matrix in conjunction with other decision-making tools and frameworks, to evaluate your product portfolio and make strategic decisions about resource allocation.
4 - The project portfolio matrix: improve your prioritisation process
The project portfolio matrix is a tool that can help individuals and organisations to correctly manage and prioritise their projects. The matrix provides a visual representation of each project's potential impact on an organisation's goals.
It also helps to identify areas where resources can be allocated more effectively.
Building a project portfolio matrix requires you to first identify all the projects you're currently working on, professional or personal.
Next, you'll need to determine the criteria that are most relevant to your situation, which can vary depending on your goals and circumstances. For example, if you're an entrepreneur, you may want to consider factors such as potential revenue and market opportunity when evaluating your projects.
Once you've established your criteria, you can create a matrix with the x-axis representing one criterion and the y-axis representing another.
The axes should be labelled with clear, specific names so that you can easily plot your projects in the appropriate quadrants, for example, you might use the x-axis to represent cost and the y-axis to represent potential impact.
When evaluating each project, you should consider all its costs and benefits with the criteria you've established.
For example, the “cost” of something can be measured in terms of time, money, resources, and other factors.
Meanwhile the “benefits” can include learning opportunities, potential revenue, market opportunity, and alignment with your goals and values.
In the end, by looking at your matrix, you will be able to give the right priority to your projects:
- Projects that fall in the top-right quadrant, which represent high benefit and low cost, should be your top priority. These are the projects that align with your goals, offer significant learning opportunities, and require minimal resources.
- Projects that fall in the bottom-left quadrant, which represents low benefit and high cost, should be eliminated or delegated if possible. These are the projects that offer little value or learning opportunities and require significant resources.
- Those in the top-left quadrant, bring high benefits but high costs. They may be worth pursuing if they align closely with your goals or offer significant learning opportunities. To pursue these projects effectively, you may also need to find ways to reduce the costs or seek additional resources.
- Projects that fall in the bottom-right quadrant, represent low benefits but low costs. They may be worth keeping if they offer some value or serve as a creative outlet, but they should not be your top priority.
Once you've plotted each project on the matrix, you can use the framework to prioritise your projects based on their potential impact and alignment with your goals and objectives.
Here are some extra tips for using the project portfolio matrix effectively:
- Evaluate each project based on multiple criteria: It's important to consider multiple factors when evaluating each project, not just one or two. This will help to ensure that you're making informed decisions based on a holistic view of each project's potential impact.
- Align projects with goals and objectives: Make sure that each project is aligned with your goals and objectives. This will help you to prioritise projects that are most likely to help you achieve your desired outcomes.
- Regularly review and update the matrix: Your priorities and objectives may change over time, so it's important to regularly review and update the matrix to ensure that it continues to accurately reflect your goals and priorities.
- Use the matrix to communicate priorities: The project portfolio matrix can be a helpful tool for communicating priorities to stakeholders, team members, and other stakeholders. It can help to ensure that everyone is aligned on the most important projects and priorities.
The project portfolio matrix can become the compass that will guide you toward your career goals. It will help you make smart and strategic decisions about where to focus your time, energy, and resources. Moreover, by taking an objective look at each of your projects and aligning them with your values and goals, you can create a career path that is truly fulfilling and rewarding.
With this tool at your disposal, you can make the most out of your resources and optimise your performance, while paving the way to greater success in the future.
Isn’t that the definition of self-improvement?
5 - The John Whitmore model: improve your goal-setting strategy
The John Whitmore model is a decision-making framework that can help teams pursue the right goals.
It is very useful for any kind of business decision and is based on fourteen key requirements that should be considered when setting goals.
To begin using the John Whitmore model, you should first distinguish between final goals and performance goals.
Their difference is crucial in using this framework: a final goal is an ultimate aim you want to achieve, while a performance goal is a specific action that helps you accomplish your final goal.
For example, if your final goal is to publish a book, a performance goal could be to write 500 words every day.
Once a team has identified its goal, it should write it down on paper and check whether it correlates with the fourteen requirements in the model, following these three acronyms:
- Specific: The goal should be clear and specific, leaving no room for ambiguity or confusion.
- Measurable: The goal should be quantifiable, so you can track your progress towards it.
- Achievable: The goal should be realistic and attainable with effort and commitment.
- Relevant: The goal should be relevant to your overall objectives and align with your values.
- Time-bound: The goal should have a deadline or a specific timeframe for completion.
- Positively Stated: The goal should be stated positively and affirmatively, rather than focusing on what you don't want to achieve.
- Understood: The goal should be understood and communicated effectively to yourself and others involved.
- Relevant: The goal should be relevant to your overall objectives and align with your values.
- Ethical: The goal should be ethical and align with your values and principles.
- Challenging: The goal should be challenging enough to motivate and inspire you to work towards it.
- Legal: The goal should be aligned with legal requirements and regulations.
- Environmentally sound: The goal should be environmentally responsible and sustainable, taking into consideration the impact on the environment.
- Agreed: The goal should be agreed upon by all relevant stakeholders, ensuring clarity and buy-in.
- Recorded: The goal should be recorded and documented, making it easier to track progress and evaluate success.
When building and using the John Whitmore model, you should ensure that your goals are not too complex and meet each of these requirements.
Only then, you should use the model to track progress and make adjustments as necessary.
By regularly reviewing your project and the fourteen requirements, you can ensure that you are pursuing the right goals and making the most of your time and resources.
6 - The feedback model: improve your relationship - skills
The feedback model is a powerful decision-making framework that empowers teams and organizations to gather valuable feedback on their choices and use it to enhance future decision-making. To maximize the impact of feedback, a structured approach can be adopted using a feedback matrix.
By systematically organizing and analyzing feedback across different categories - such as advice, compliments, criticism, and suggestions -you can prioritize and develop a plan to address the feedback. This enables them to improve their performance and decision-making skills. With feedback being a crucial tool for personal and professional growth, utilizing a feedback matrix is a wise choice for anyone seeking to make the most of it.
So, let's dive into how you can build your feedback matrix to elevate your decision-making process:
- Create a table with four columns: advice, compliment, criticism, and suggestion.
- Write down the feedback you receive in each of the appropriate columns.
- Analyze the feedback in each category:
- For advice, consider how you can apply the suggestions you received to improve your performance or decision-making process.
- For compliments, take note of what you did well and continue doing it.
- For criticism, look for patterns and consider whether there are areas where you need to make changes.
- For suggestions, evaluate whether the suggestions align with your goals and whether they are feasible to implement.
- Assign a priority level to each feedback category based on its potential impact. For example, if you receive criticism about a crucial aspect of your work, prioritize addressing that over implementing a suggestion that may have less of an impact.
- Develop a plan to address the feedback. For each feedback category, identify specific actions you can take to improve or maintain your performance. Assign a timeline for each action, and determine how you will measure progress.
- Implement the plan and monitor progress regularly. Check on your progress and adjust your plan as necessary.
Remember, feedback is a valuable tool for growth and development, and using a feedback matrix can help you make the most of it.
Now that you have read about its use, let’s see how to maximize its benefits with these three guidelines:
- First, it is essential to collect feedback from a diverse group of stakeholders. This way, you can obtain a more well-rounded view of the decision. This can help identify potential issues that may not have been evident otherwise, and it can also provide a better understanding of the impact of the decision on various stakeholders.
- Secondly, it's important to use the feedback to make informed decisions. The feedback you receive can help inform future decisions and make adjustments as necessary. By taking the feedback into account, you can make more informed decisions that take into account the viewpoints of stakeholders.
- Lastly, use the feedback model as a continuous improvement tool to improve the decision-making process over time. By continuously seeking feedback and making adjustments, you can improve the decision-making process, making it more efficient, effective, and inclusive.
With proper execution and following all these tips, the feedback model can lead to well-informed decisions.
By aligning with stakeholder perspectives, your product will meet all their demands.
Take your time, carry out these steps carefully and improve your decision-making process by learning from feedback.
7 - The family tree model: improve your networking
The family tree model is a powerful tool for understanding brand loyalty and maintaining business contacts. It is based on brand loyalty as a person's attachment to a brand or product, as well as their desire to tell others about it.
Choose this model if you are seeking to maintain business contacts.
You will understand better the importance of personal connections in building relationships, while effectively allocating your resources.
One of the main benefits of the family tree model is its simplicity.
Rather than using complex questionnaires, the model asks customers a single question:
"Who recommended this product to you, and who would you recommend it to?"
By asking this, you can gain insights into the level of brand loyalty and satisfaction among your customers, dividing them into:
- Promoters: These customers are the most loyal and satisfied with your product. They actively promote your brand by recommending it to others.
- Passively satisfied customers: These customers are satisfied with your product but are not likely to actively promote it.
- Critics: These customers are not satisfied with your product and are likely to discourage others from using it.
The results will help you understand which customers are your most valuable promoters and which ones need more attention.
The ratio of promoters to critics indicates the overall level of brand loyalty and satisfaction among your customers: the higher the ratio, the more likely your product is to be successful in the market.
In contrast, a low ratio indicates that you need to improve your product or service to increase customer satisfaction and loyalty.
But let’s make a practical example on a portfolio.
To use the family tree model, draw a client or portfolio structure in the shape of a family tree, this will allow you to see how or through whom a client became one.
The more family trees you have to draw, the more diverse your customer structure or portfolio is.
This is particularly important because areas with more branches require more maintenance, as they represent a risk of over-concentration and can easily break.
In this case, it would be essential to allocate resources more effectively and build stronger relationships with your customers and business contacts.
In conclusion, the family tree model is a simple yet effective tool for understanding which contacts to maintain in business, enabling a better allocation of resources. By focusing on customer feedback and organizing contacts with this model, you can understand how customers came to know about your product and who your most valuable connections are.
8 - SCAMPER: improve your creativity
SCAMPER is a creative technique developed by Bob Eberle that helps generate new ideas for existing software applications or services, similar to brainstorming.
This framework too is an acronym and it utilizes seven methods that inspire creativity and encourage thinking outside the box:
S - Substitute: Replace one element of the software with something else to improve it. For example, replacing a traditional password-based login system with biometric authentication could improve the software's security.
C - Combine: Combine two or more features of the software to create a new, innovative feature. For instance, combining social media integration with a project management tool can help team members collaborate more effectively.
A - Adapt: Modify the software to make it work better in a different context. For example, adapting a social media app to work on lower-end devices with limited processing power and memory can expand its user base.
M - Modify: Analyze user feedback and make changes to the software to enhance its value and performance. For example, adding an intuitive chatbot feature to a customer service application can help users solve problems faster and more efficiently.
P - Put to Another Use: Find a new use for the software. For instance, repurposing a GPS navigation app for tracking lost or stolen pets could help pet owners locate their furry friends more easily.
E - Eliminate: Remove an unnecessary feature of the software to make it more user-friendly. For example, eliminating excessive notifications from a task management application can help users focus better on their work.
R - Reverse: Look at the software from a different perspective and change it to create something innovative. For example, applying a peer-to-peer model to car rental services, where car owners rent out their vehicles to people in need, can revolutionize the car rental industry.
SCAMPER is a systematic approach that structures the brainstorming process and encourages teams to consider new perspectives. Although it's primarily focused on improving existing products, it's still an excellent tool for generating fresh ideas quickly and efficiently in various contexts, such as product development, marketing, problem-solving and decision-making.
If you want to improve your creativity and brainstorming techniques, this is the tool for you.
9 - The conflict resolution model: improve your resolution skills
The Conflict Resolution Model (CRM) is a powerful decision-making framework and strategic thinking tool that can help teams and organizations elegantly resolve conflicts.
As psychologists agree, conflicts are inevitable, and it is essential to deal with them effectively to prevent deadlock, recrimination, and loss of productivity.
CRM provides a structured approach to managing conflicts that will enable parties to reach a mutually acceptable solution while preserving relationships and fostering trust.
CRM comprises six different ways of dealing with a conflict situation: escape, fight, give up, evade responsibility, compromise, or reach a consensus.
Each approach has its advantages and disadvantages, depending on the circumstances and goals of the parties involved.
Learn all their aspects to choose the best for your specific situation:
Escaping is the same as avoiding a problem. In this approach, the conflict is not addressed, and the situation remains the same. It can be assumed that neither side will gain anything, resulting in a lose-lose situation. This approach may be useful when the stakes are low, and the conflict is not worth pursuing, but it is not recommended for high-stakes situations.
Those who deal with a conflict aggressively have only one aim: to win. The focus is on conquering the opponent and asserting one's position in the face of resistance from others. However, this approach results in a win-lose situation, where only one party wins and the other loses. This can create long-term resentment and damage relationships, making it an ineffective approach to resolving conflicts.
- Give up
Those who give up their position in a conflict solve it by retreating, i.e., they lose. The result is a lose-win situation, where one party wins, but the other loses. This approach may be useful when the stakes are low, and preserving the relationship is more critical than winning the conflict. However, it is not recommended for high-stakes situations, as it can lead to feelings of resentment and frustration.
- Evade responsibility
Those who feel overwhelmed by a conflict often delegate the decision - and thus also the confrontation - to another authority, usually a higher one. This authority solves the conflict for them, but not necessarily wisely and not necessarily in the delegator's interest. There is a risk that the parties on both sides of the conflict will lose, resulting in a lose-lose situation.
Depending on how it is perceived, a compromise is a solution acceptable to both parties. It is often felt that although the solution isn't ideal, it is reasonable in the circumstances, resulting in a win-lose/win-lose situation. Compromise may be useful in low-stakes situations, where preserving the relationship is more important than winning the conflict. However, it may not be effective in high-stakes situations, where parties have opposing interests that cannot be reconciled through compromise.
- Reach a consensus
A consensus is based on a new solution that has been developed by both parties. In contrast to a compromise, it is a win-win situation for both parties, because nobody has to back down. Instead, both parties develop a 'third way' together. This approach is the most effective in resolving conflicts, as it fosters cooperation, trust, and mutual respect. By working together, parties can create a solution that is acceptable to both and can improve their relationship in the long term.
CRM provides a useful framework for teams and organizations to resolve conflicts effectively and elegantly. It can enable parties to reach a consensus that is acceptable to both and can improve their relationship in the long term. By adopting the CRM approach, you and your organization can minimize the negative effects of conflicts and foster a more productive and collaborative work environment: that’s why this is an essential tool in every kind of business.
10 - The crossroads model: improve your professional and personal direction
As we do in our personal lives, in the business world we encounter crossroads where we are faced with critical decisions that will impact our future. For example, these crossroads may involve choosing between different investment opportunities, expanding into new markets, or deciding whether to pivot our business strategy.
The Crossroads Model, inspired by The Personal Compass developed by San Francisco consulting agency The Grove, is a powerful decision-making framework that helps us identify our direction in life and business.
It has been made exactly for this, it makes us reflect on our life journey, values, and obstacles, and we gain clarity and insights into who we are and where we want to go.
This model is more introspective than the others, and it requires some self-reflection before giving results.
- To begin, consider your past experiences and what has shaped you into who you are today.
What keywords resonate with you?
- Next, identify the top three things that are truly important to you, your values, and your guiding principles.
What matters to you?
- Now, think about the people whose opinions you value and those who influence your decisions.
Who do you like, respect, and fear?
- Next, take stock of the obstacles that are preventing you from focusing on the things that matter most.
What tasks do you need to complete, and what's holding you back from pursuing your goals?
- Finally, identify the things, circumstances, or people that cause you worry and anxiety.
What fears rob you of your strength and confidence?
- Once you've answered these questions, take a step back and reflect on your notes.
Do the keywords you've written down capture the essence of who you are today?
If necessary, add more keywords and questions to gain a more comprehensive understanding of yourself.
Now, let's explore the roads that lie ahead.
The Crossroads Model presents six possibilities to consider:
- The road that beckons - What have you always wanted to try but never have?
- The Road of wild imagination - What would you dream of, regardless of its feasibility?
- The road of practicality - What path would the people whose opinions you value suggest to you as most sensible?
- The road not taken - Which options have you not yet considered?
- The road travelled before - What can you learn from your past experiences?
- The road back to a place of safety - Is there a place where you once felt secure that you could return to?
Take your time to consider each of these paths and the possibilities they present.
Remember, the choice and interpretation are yours.
Nonetheless, only by utilizing this model, you'll be more equipped to make more informed decisions and navigate the crossroads of life with greater clarity and purpose.
Set your goals and use The Crossroads Model as a strategic thinking tool to guide you toward that direction.
In conclusion, the ten models we have presented are valuable tools for anyone looking to improve their decision-making skills in business. These frameworks are designed to simplify complex situations, provide structure and clarity, and help teams make better decisions with greater confidence.
It's important to note that these models aren't just useful in business settings - they can also bring positive changes to your personal life, including increased productivity, better decision-making, and enhanced innovation. Ultimately, the key to success in business and beyond is continuous self-improvement, and these models offer a powerful way to achieve that goal.
So if you're looking to enhance your decision-making skills and improve your chances of success, we highly recommend exploring these models and incorporating them into your daily routine.