Recently Unilever challenged Procter & Gamble to prove their advertising claim that P&G’s Fairy brand of washing-up liquid lasted twice as long as Unilever’s Persil brand. The result that followed provides a great lesson for deciding which battles to pick.

I’ve just kicked off another project through my firm, Product People Limited. With the inevitable flurry of project start-up activity, a couple of basic tasks have reminded me how important it is for product managers to be as flexible as possible, whenever possible.

Business networking used to hold about as much appeal for me as speed-dating with alligators. It was only later that I came to tolerate it, even enjoy it, but only after I learned to think about it differently. If the prospect of a room of people at an event fills you with dread, read on, this may help.

Like doing the washing-up, vacuuming under the sofa or cleaning your windows, housekeeping tasks with your product can get neglected because they’re tedious, not as interesting as new features and so on. However, if you’ve ever found yourself eating breakfast cereal out of an oven tray with a serving spoon because every single item of cutlery and crockery is festering in a pile in your sink, it should be apparent there is inherent value in tackling housekeeping tasks bit by bit over time.

At some point in your product career, you’re going to piss someone off. It will be unavoidable. Hopefully it will not have been the result of, say, supergluing a pound coin to the desktop of your alpha sales guy. It might be a customer who’s annoyed with you, perhaps because of an otherwise well-intentioned change to your product. Is this a problem? Not yet. Let me explain why.