Strong opinions, loosely held - the balance between conviction and openness
Published on 2023-05-16

Strong opinions, loosely held - the balance between conviction and openness

As product managers, we navigate a dynamic landscape filled with countless decisions, trade-offs, and uncertainties. In our pursuit of creating successful products, we often find ourselves torn between the need for conviction and the importance of remaining open to new possibilities. It is in this delicate balancing act that the concept of "strong opinions, loosely held" emerges as a valuable mindset to guide our daily work. In this article, we will explore the essence of this philosophy and why it is crucial for us as product managers.

Conviction — The fuel for progress

Strong opinions are born out of our beliefs, experiences, and expertise. They are the foundation upon which we build our vision and make critical decisions. Conviction provides the fuel that propels us forward, enabling us to rally teams, make tough choices, and navigate ambiguity. It showcases our confidence and determination, instilling trust in our stakeholders.

However, we must tread carefully. An excess of conviction can lead to rigidity, tunnel vision, and an unwillingness to embrace change. It can blind us to alternative viewpoints, valuable feedback, and emerging trends. This is where the second part of the equation comes into play.

Openness — the gateway to growth

Being loosely held means remaining open-minded and receptive to new information, insights, and perspectives. It's about embracing the idea that we don't have all the answers and that there is always room for improvement. Openness allows us to adapt, learn, and iterate, fostering an environment that encourages creativity and innovation.

Yet, embracing openness without a foundation of strong opinions can result in indecisiveness, a lack of direction, and constantly shifting priorities. We risk losing focus and failing to make progress. Thus, striking the right balance between conviction and openness is essential.

The power of "strong opinions, loosely held"

The concept of "strong opinions, loosely held" is a delicate dance between conviction and openness. It empowers us to approach our work with confidence while staying receptive to new insights. Here's how this mindset applies to our daily work as product managers:

  1. Formulating a vision: Begin with a strong opinion about the problem you aim to solve and the value you intend to deliver. But remain open to evolving that vision as you gain a deeper understanding of customer needs and market dynamics.
  2. Setting priorities: Define your product roadmap with conviction, based on a strong opinion about what will drive the most value. However, be open to adjusting priorities as new information emerges or market conditions change.
  3. Embracing feedback: Listen to user feedback, market trends, and insights from cross-functional teams with an open mind. Maintain the humility to admit when you may have been wrong, and be willing to pivot or iterate on your product direction.
  4. Promoting collaboration: Encourage diverse perspectives and create an environment where team members feel comfortable expressing their opinions. Foster healthy debates and discussions that challenge assumptions and lead to better solutions.
  5. Learning from failure: When things don't go as planned, leverage the lessons learned to iterate and improve. Embrace failures as opportunities to refine your approach rather than as personal setbacks.


As product managers, we must embrace the delicate balance between conviction and openness. The mindset of "strong opinions, loosely held" enables us to have confidence in our vision and decision-making while remaining adaptable to new information and insights. It empowers us to make progress, iterate, and deliver products that truly meet the needs of our customers. By adopting this approach, we can navigate the ever-changing landscape of product management with agility and purpose.