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  • Laura Stringer

Risk is everywhere. Staying ahead of it is hard.

For this series, we sat down with 10 startup founders and heads of product to learn how the approach product management, and distilled their advice and feedback into a few key areas.

We hope some of these insights will help in your day-to-day activities in the world of product. We’d like to thank the founders and product leaders who took the time to share their thoughts.

From staffing decisions and supply chain issues, dealing with the swirl of risk management is an ongoing, daily issue. Especially these days, when predictability is more fleeting than ever. Of course, the tech community is used to rapid change - it’s our default mode. Recently, that change has been sped up by the pandemic and resulting challenges.

One founder and CEO of a B2C software company told us, “The strategies/decisions that we’re going to make are going to be different moving forward. Things won’t be the same for 1-3 all the things we thought were common sense...that’s going to definitely be affected and changed.”

Some of his concerns were focused on support at their hosting company. If they decided to engage a new software company, would that vendor be able to execute consistently?

The founder added that many companies he’s spoken with are having supply chain issues. “Everyone with a physical product has seen disruptions. We had fallback suppliers, but now everyone is having challenges, so we’re doing musical chairs finding suppliers.”

Another company had been relying heavily on an open source platform. When that platform was deprecated, the founder had to halt new development while they built a replacement platform.

Plan for change and challenge

In times of challenge, it’s easy to simply wait for a better future.

People often try to fight a bad situation, even one that’s out of their hands.

However, we have found that struggle holds teams back from success - so much energy goes into the struggle itself. A better approach is to adapt to the new situation, and see it not as a problem but simply the way things are.

It’s much easier to think clearly when focused on what you can control, rather than constantly pushing against external conditions. And product managers are champions at adapting to new circumstances.

And even in “normal” times, risk management is an essential part of not just business, but product.

Because anything can change at any time, founders and product leaders need to be acutely aware of risks and have mitigation plans in place.


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