Beyond the To-Do List: Crafting Success as an Output-Driven Product Manager

Beyond the To-Do List: Crafting Success as an Output-Driven Product Manager

Product Manager Hub Newsletter: Ship it to Production

Your Product Manager Weekly Update Vol. 28

Are you ready to navigate the exciting world of product development, gather valuable insights, and level up your skills? Look no further! We are here to empower you with the tools, tips, and resources you need to excel in your role. πŸš€πŸ’‘Let’s dive into this week’s question: Beyond the To-Do List: Crafting Success as an Output-Driven Product Manager

This Week’s Question:

The CEO of my company has feedback for me. He said I’m an “Input” PM, meaning, I put in the hours, I work hard but I need to become an “output/outcome manager”. What does this mean in layman’s terms and how can I achieve this transition?” – Reddit User

This Week’s Quote

Embrace the power of questions. They are not just inquiries; they are the catalysts of innovation. The journey of questioning is the compass that leads to breakthroughs in the world of product management. Keep asking, keep exploring, and watch the extraordinary unfold.

β€” Ed Kmall co-founder of Pixar

Beyond the To-Do List: Crafting Success as an Output-Driven Product Manager
Beyond the To-Do List: Crafting Success as an Output-Driven Product Manager

Beyond the To-Do List: Crafting Success as an Output-Driven Product Manager

Hey Product Managers,

Ever received feedback that you’re an “Input” PM, but you’re not quite sure what that means or how to shift gears to become an “Output” PM? Let’s break it down.

In the dynamic world of product management, the terms “Input” and “Output” are more than just buzzwords thrown around by executives. They signify a crucial shift in perspective that can elevate your impact on the products you manage.

  • Input PM: You’re the hard worker, the one who puts in the hours, diligently ticking off tasks on your to-do list. But what if there’s more to it than just clocking in and out? It’s time to consider the bigger picture.
  • Output PM: Think of yourself as the outcome architect. Your focus is not just on the grind but on the measurable impact your work has on the grand scheme of things. It’s about aligning your efforts with the company’s goals, moving the needle on key metrics, and transforming features into tangible results.

So, which one are you?

Don’t worry; we’ve got you covered. In this newsletter, we’ll explore practical strategies to make the leap from being an Input PM to mastering the art of being an Output PM. From goal-setting and prioritization to understanding the broader impact of your features, we’ll unravel the secrets to becoming a PM powerhouse.

Ready to redefine your product management journey?

Let’s dive in.

Input Product Manager:

Here are three examples of characteristics or behaviors that might be associated with an Input Product Manager:

  1. Task-Oriented Focus:
    • An Input PM may primarily focus on completing tasks and checking off items from a to-do list.
    • Their attention is directed toward the daily grind and execution of assigned responsibilities.
  2. Hours Worked as a Metric:
    • Input PMs might measure their productivity based on the number of hours they put into their work.
    • The emphasis is on the quantity of time spent rather than the quality of outcomes achieved.
  3. Feature Delivery Without Strategic Alignment:
    • An Input PM may excel in shipping features and meeting deadlines but might struggle to clearly connect those features to broader strategic goals.
    • Their work may lack a clear alignment with the company’s overall vision or desired outcomes.

It’s important to note that these examples are not inherently negative, and many successful product managers start with a focus on execution. The key is recognizing the need to balance input-oriented tasks with a more outcome-driven approach for long-term success.

Output Product Managers

Here are three examples of characteristics or behaviors that might be associated with an Output Product Manager:

  1. Strategic Alignment with Company Goals:
    • An Output PM actively aligns their work with the overarching goals and vision of the company.
    • They ensure that every task and feature is strategically positioned to contribute to the company’s success.
  2. Metrics-Driven Decision Making:
    • Output PMs focus on measurable outcomes and use key performance indicators (KPIs) to guide their decisions.
    • They analyze data to understand the impact of their features and use it to inform future product decisions.
  3. Customer-Centric Approach:
    • An Output PM deeply understands customer needs and pain points, using this knowledge to drive product decisions.
    • They prioritize features and improvements based on the direct impact on user satisfaction and engagement.
  4. Outcome-Oriented Goal Setting:
    • Output PMs set and prioritize goals based on the desired outcomes rather than simply completing tasks.
    • Their focus is on achieving tangible results, such as revenue growth, user acquisition, or improvements in user experience.

These examples highlight a shift from the more task-oriented focus of an Input PM to a strategic, data-driven, and outcome-oriented approach that defines an Output PM. The goal is to not just complete tasks but to drive meaningful results that contribute to the overall success of the product and the company.

How to transition from an Input Product Manager to an Output Product Manager

Transitioning from an Input PM to an Output PM involves a shift in mindset and approach. Here are some real-life examples for each point to help you make this transition:

Task-Oriented Focus to Strategic Alignment:

  • Input PM Behavior: Completing a set of features without considering how they align with the company’s broader goals.
  • Output PM Transition: Before starting a new project, conduct a thorough analysis of the company’s strategic goals. Identify how your upcoming features contribute to achieving these goals. For example, if the company aims to increase user engagement, ensure that your features are designed to enhance the user experience and boost engagement metrics.

Hours Worked as a Metric to Metrics-Driven Decision-Making:

  • Input PM Behavior: Logging extra hours to demonstrate dedication without necessarily tying it to measurable outcomes.
  • Output PM Transition: Instead of focusing on hours worked, concentrate on the impact of your work. For instance, if your goal is to improve conversion rates, track the performance of the features you implement. Use A/B testing and analytics to measure the success of your changes and make data-driven decisions to optimize conversion.

Feature Delivery Without Strategic Alignment to Customer-Centric Approach:

  • Input PM Behavior: Shipping features regularly, but without a deep understanding of how they address customer needs.
  • Output PM Transition: Invest time in customer interviews, surveys, and feedback analysis. Identify pain points and prioritize features that directly address customer needs. For example, if users consistently express frustration with a specific aspect of the product, prioritize enhancements to that area and measure customer satisfaction improvements over time.

Feature Delivery Without Strategic Alignment to Outcome-Oriented Goal Setting:

  • Input PM Behavior: Focusing on completing tasks without clear goals tied to measurable outcomes.
  • Output PM Transition: Set specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART) goals for your projects. We suggest, instead of aiming to release a certain number of features. Set goals like increasing user retention by a certain percentage or improving a key metric. For instance, if the company’s goal is to increase revenue, set a goal to boost conversion rates and measure the impact of your features on this metric.

By incorporating these practices into your product management approach, you can make a meaningful transition from being primarily task-oriented to becoming a more strategic, metrics-driven, and outcome-focused Product Manager.


When embarking on the journey from an Input PM to an Output PM is a transformative step that promises not just personal growth but a substantial impact on the success of your products and, consequently, your company.

Embrace the shift from mere task completion to strategic alignment, from counting hours worked to making data-driven decisions, and from delivering features to deeply understanding and addressing customer needs.

Next, realize that your role is not merely about input but about driving meaningful outcomes that resonate with the broader goals of the organization. Every step you take in this transition is a stride toward becoming a powerhouse Product Manager who not only works diligently but shapes products that truly matter.

Embrace the challenge, set ambitious yet achievable goals, and watch as your dedication transforms into a measurable and impactful legacy.

Your journey toward becoming an Output PM is a testament to your commitment to excellence, and the best is yet to come!

Anthony Ludwig – Product Manager Hub

P.S. Stay tuned for more insights and tips in our upcoming newsletters. Your feedback and ideas are always welcome!

This Week’s Resources: Articles

How To Not Suck As A Technical Product Manager
The Pyramid Approach stands out as an invaluable strategy for new technical …
Optimizing Sprint Reviews for Product Success
We delve into the heart of Sprint Reviews, exploring strategies to revitalize …
User Acceptance Testing Best Practices
In this edition of "Ship It To Production," we dive into a …

Product Manager Videos