Disconnect from your Product

Gentle Reminder, Product Managers

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Disconnect | Photo by Gabriel Benois on Unsplash
This post appeared in my weekly newsletter where I talk about Product Management, How to Code & Life Lessons. 

If you are a Product Manager working on a promising idea and trying to transform it into a commercial success, then this reminder is for you.

If you are a Product Manager managing a successful product in a large company, this is also for you.

I recommend you really resist the urge to get emotionally attached to the product that you are building or managing.

You see, very often the Product Manager and the product, become one and the same. All the more so, when the product you manage was born out of your idea.

I get it. It is hard. You love building things, and it's easy to get emotionally attached and invested in a thing that you created out of nothing.

But it is a slippery slope.

We must learn to disconnect from our gut feelings and make decisions based on objective facts. Based on truths and not opinions. And there is just one truth, and that is — what does the customer care about?

But wait, you already know that, right?

Sure you do, but here’s the thing. Figuring out what your customer actually cares about is VERY hard, and requires disciplined pursuit.

But again, time is of the essence. There are launch deadlines, competitors breathing down our throats — and the urge to take short-cuts. Why not go with gut feelings? I’ve been guilty of that myself. Because hey, after all, you know your product. It’s your baby, right?

Wrong. Your product is not your baby. Instead, if you want it to be commercially successful, you need to be brutally honest to yourself about the things you hate about it. You need to take those rose-colored glasses off and be critical of it, all the time.

So, this is a reminder to you. To not lose the ability to see your product’s shortcomings. Especially, when you are building it.

How do you do that?

When making product decisions, disconnect from the product itself — and reconnect with the customer. That’s how.

Your customers or target customers are your only source of truth. If your success criterion is making money off of your product — then the real source of truth lies inside the purse of your customer.

If they don’t exchange that dollar bill for the right to use your product then they don't really care about it — no matter what they said on that survey you conducted.

“Very often, the Product Manager and the product, become one and the same.”

PMs in Multi-Product Companies

Unless you are working for a one-product startup, chances are there are several other product managers like you working on several other products that are somehow related to yours.

While as a PM you are responsible for growing your product line, taking an overall organizational view to think through how your plans and product decisions impact the immediate portfolio, as well as overall company strategy, is paramount.

There may often be situations where a potentially great strategic direction for products you manage might actually be detrimental to another (perhaps more valuable) product line for your organization.

In such cases, its key for a PM to understand the potential impact scenarios, discuss with other PMs and leadership before making a product decision.

It’s quite possible that the best decision in some cases might be to NOT move forward with what seems like a great path forward for your product. And that’s okay — because it's not about your product alone. It's about the portfolio. Like I said, disconnect from your product.

So, do not lose the ability to distance yourself from the product that you are really passionate about, to look at strategic options objectively, and do what is best of the organization and for your product.

This post has been published on www.productschool.com communities

Written by

Building Taskwillow. Notes about building things and selling them. Sometimes other stuff too. I am on Twitter @chakrvyuh.

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