How to Handle Failure as a Product Manager

Sofia Quintero
Apr 30 · 7 min read

Acknowledge ‘Who’ and ‘Why’ — but Focus on ‘What’

When we make mistakes, it’s all too easy to focus on why things went wrong and who is responsible.

Make Sure Your Goals Are Realistic

One of the most common reasons for failure in product development is setting overly ambitious (or even impossible) targets.

Get Out of Your Own Head

Many product managers are highly analytical, introspective thinkers. Attention to detail, a fastidious work ethic, and an analytical mind are all incredibly valuable assets for any product manager — but they can also result in overthinking even the smallest problems.

Accept Responsibility — Even When It’s Not Your Fault

As hard as it can be to take your hands off the wheel and delegate responsibilities to your team members, it’s important to remember that ultimately, the buck stops with you.

Communicate Problems Early and Proactively

Sometimes, we make mistakes so serious that there’s very little we can do to contain the fallout. Most of the time, however, the potential impact of a mistake can be mitigated by proactively communicating with key stakeholders.

  • Wait for the deadline to pass, apologize, and offer excuses after the fact

Fail, Learn, Repeat

Seeing mistakes as an unavoidable inevitability is the first step toward acknowledging that there is only so much you can directly influence and control. Oftentimes, the only thing we can control is how we respond to failure and how we learn from it.

Hungry for Insight

A community for product people leading change

Sofia Quintero

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Hungry for Insight

A community for product people leading change