Episode 67: Beyond Firefighting w/Alfonso Fiore

3 August, 2021 / Host: MAGNUS BILLGREN

Unlocking Strategic Thinking for Product Managers

In the fast-paced world of product management, firefighting often becomes the norm. Urgent issues and daily crises consume our attention, leaving little room for strategic thinking and innovation. However, this firefighting mentality is not conducive to long-term success. In this episode of The Productbeats Show, Alfonso Fiore, Chief Product Officer at Happy Fresh, shares his insights on how product managers can transcend firefighting and embrace a strategic mindset to drive value and advance their careers. By understanding the perspective of their managers and learning to appreciate strategic thinking, product managers can revolutionize their approach and become city planners rather than mere firefighters.

The Challenges of Firefighting

As product managers, we often find ourselves immersed in a constant cycle of putting out fires. While it may provide a sense of accomplishment, firefighting can hinder our ability to focus on the bigger picture. Alfonso Fiore highlights the frustration shared by both C-level teams and product managers: the lack of strategic thinking and innovative initiatives. To effect change, we need to make strategic choices about which fires to tackle, prevent fires proactively, and minimize their impact. By shifting our mindset from firefighter to city planner, we can create more value for our products and careers.

Understanding the Manager's Perspective

Alfonso emphasizes the importance of understanding how managers perceive the work of product managers. He identifies three key rules that influence a manager's view of a product manager's role: ensuring their boss can sleep at night, moving the needle to drive business impact, and avoiding the perception of being solely a firefighter. By internalizing these rules, product managers can align their objectives with their managers' goals and aspirations, fostering a collaborative and mutually beneficial relationship.

Thinking Strategically

To break free from the confines of firefighting, product managers must learn to think strategically. Alfonso shares practical insights and strategies to help product managers transition from a tactical to a strategic mindset. He uses the analogy of being the mayor of a town, encouraging product managers to envision themselves as city planners who focus on long-term structural reforms rather than firefighting the immediate issues. By prioritizing strategic initiatives, such as implementing preventive measures and making structural changes, product managers can drive lasting impact and move beyond the constraints of firefighting.

Embracing the Role of a Product Leader

Product managers play a crucial role in shaping the culture of their organizations. Alfonso emphasizes the importance of product leaders driving the transformation towards a product-led company. By championing a strategic mindset, product leaders can inspire their teams and create an environment that encourages innovation, collaboration, and long-term thinking. Alfonso shares his own experiences working with startups and large enterprises in various countries, highlighting the importance of cultural shifts and aligning product management with broader business objectives.


  • Transition from firefighting mode: Learn strategies to move beyond reactive problem-solving and develop a proactive mindset as a product manager.
  • Strategic thinking for better value: Discover techniques for delivering enhanced value by aligning product goals with long-term business objectives and customer needs.
  • Drive innovation and career growth: Gain insights into making strategic choices that foster innovation, boost your product management career, and position yourself as a valuable asset in the industry.

If you're eager to enhance your product management skills and take your career to new heights, consider enrolling in The Productbeats Product Management Certification Program. This comprehensive program offers a structured curriculum designed to equip aspiring and seasoned product managers with the knowledge and tools they need to excel in today's dynamic business landscape. With a focus on practical application and industry-relevant insights, this certification program will empower you to become a highly effective product manager, capable of driving innovation, delivering value, and leading successful product initiatives. Don't miss this opportunity to level up your skills and join a community of passionate product professionals.
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