Questions you need to be asking
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Questions you need to be asking


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There are many questions that a product manager needs to ask to determine the best course of action or to analyse underlying motivations.  Of them, I use the following three questions most often:

  1. So what?
  2. Why?
  3. What’s stopping us?

So what? #

Use this repeatedly to uncover the true benefit of something rather than simply features of the proposition.  For example:

Feature: Mercedes spends millions on Formula 1

So what?

Feature: They invest lots of money to ensure their team’s cars are the fastest

So what?

Feature: The fastest cars win races

So what?

Feature: The winning cars expose their brand to millions of spectators and TV viewers

So what?

Feature: Prospective customers to associate success / winning / being no. 1 with the company

So what?

Benefit: Mercedes sell more cars as a result and thus make a profit on the original investment

Why? #

Fairly obvious – again use this repeatedly to uncover the root cause of a problem, market problem, customer behaviour, allowing the root cause to be addressed rather than its symptoms.

What’s stopping us? #

Use this to uncover the real barriers to achieving some objective and to flush out excuses such as “but we’ve always done it that way” or “we don’t have the time /expertise to make the changes”.  Often the real reason comes from the person’s fears or concerns.  These need to be answered before getting back on track with the activity.


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The Practitioner’s Guide to Product Management
by Jock Busuttil

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Jock is a freelance head of product, author and conference speaker. He has spent nearly two decades working with technology companies to improve their product management practices, from startups to multinationals. His clients include the BBC, University of Cambridge, and the UK's Ministry of Justice and Government Digital Service (GDS).In 2012 Jock founded Product People Limited, a product management consultancy and training company. He is also the author of the popular book The Practitioner's Guide to Product Management and the blog I Manage Products.

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