Product Manager As Psychic.
I recently heard a statistic that suggested over 60% of features in a product are never used. This got me to think long and hard about the products I manage, and invited me to question how much of what I send to development is considered “waste”.
How often do I make assumptions about what customers need without asking the right questions? Better yet, how often do I wish I spent time to ask the same question in different ways to get to the heart of the ask? More than I care to admit.
As product managers, we can’t expect customers to tell us exactly what they need and have that be accurate most of the time. Ask anyone what they need and they will tell you, “Oh, I need [insert shiny new object].” They are not necessarily thinking about their problems in that moment. Sure, I want the Apple Thunderbolt Display but I actually need a Windows touch screen laptop to conduct user testing. Will I prioritize the Windows laptop? Nope.
I liken this to shopping, which unlike most females in my age and demographic, I happen to loathe unless it’s the Apple Store or Best Buy. You get the picture. When I do shop, you will never find me making a purchase without doing some amount of research and analysis before I buy. That’s because as a cost-conscious and time-focused person, I do not want to invest in anything that does not positively impact my life.
Why should developing products for customers be any different?
Let’s not waste our customer’s time, our time, and our company’s precious resources. Get out of the office and start spending time with your customers. Do the thinking they can’t or don’t want to do. Prepare ahead of time and think through their business, their process, and learn their problems.
Stop playing psychic. Did it ever really work in your favor?