2: Find problems rather than guess solutions
I’m writing about one hundred things I’ve learned about being a product manager.
We’re product managers. We’re in charge of the future direction of our products. But when we start thinking about the requirements for a new product version, I bet we all make the same mistake when deciding what goes in: we guess solutions rather than find problems.
My guess is that most will come from a backlog or list of feature requests we or perhaps our colleagues have compiled. Maybe some from the list of features that we dropped from scope from previous releases. Or a few suggested changes from our aesthete colleagues that would make the user interface look “fresh” and “current”. And almost certainly a few tweaks suggested by our Very Important Customers and mandated by your boss’s boss.
The design, development and testing comes and goes. Towards the end of the project, as the release date approaches, we then check what we’ve created works okay by engaging in some user acceptance, beta or usability testing.
Wait a minute – we’ve missed a crucial step.
We’ve fallen into to the trap of thinking that we know better than our potential customers
We’ve not checked whether anyone is likely to pay good money for what we’ve decided to throw together into our new release. In other words, we’ve fallen into to the trap of thinking that we know better than our potential customers.
Developing products in this way is back-to-front. They’re solutions in search of a problem. No matter how hard you market them or push your sales teams to sell them, your new release simply won’t gain traction. There’s a real danger that your new release solves no market problems whatsoever, or at least solves no problems that your prospective customers will think are worth spending their cash on.
Wouldn’t it be great to be in that minority of companies that understands the needs of their target markets well? These companies only develop products once they’re sure that they’ll solve real and valuable problems facing their customers.
Buck the trend – be part of the minority of companies achieving far greater success than the mediocre majority.
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