PRODUCTHEAD: Defending against ‘Dawn of the Dumb’ product ideas

PRODUCTHEAD: Defending against ‘Dawn of the Dumb’ product ideas

PRODUCTHEAD is a regular newsletter of product management goodness,
curated by Jock Busuttil.

productdrunk lovesick singalong #


User and market research is more easily accessible, yet the opinions of senior managers still bias product decisions

Confidence in an idea only truly comes from gathering evidence

every PRODUCTHEAD edition is online for you to refer back to


You may be familiar with Intercom’s RICE (Reach, Impact, Confidence, Effort) method for prioritising the things you could be working on for your product. If you need a quick refresher, I cover it in the only article you’ll ever need on prioritisation.

The RICE method isn’t all-encompassing. In fairness, its originator Sean McBride never claimed it was. It perhaps assumes that you’re only scoring potential product work that is already aligned to the wider product and corporate strategies. Otherwise you could easily achieve a high score for something that seems worthwhile in isolation, but would actually be a massive distraction from what is more important right now.

That aside, the other problem is that the Impact, Confidence and Effort measures are all rather subjective. McBride works around this limitation to an extent by grouping scores into representative values (such as high / medium / low). But guesses are still guesses, even if they’re in a spreadsheet.

Enter Itamar Gilad, who introduces a method for shoring up the Confidence element of the RICE score. Unlike the guesswork of the original, he calculates the Confidence based on tangible evidence (or lack of it). More trustworthy evidence, such as the results of user research or observing what actually happened after a launch, attracts a greater weighting.

Contributions to the score are also capped. The category “other people’s opinions” (when people think X is a good idea) makes no further contribution after 5 instances. I like this refinement in particular because it mitigates against ‘Dawn of the Dumb’ popularity contests. You know the ones I mean, where someone manages to hype up their nonsensical pet project to such an extent that it makes it almost impossible for a put-upon product manager to deflect it.

Anything that helps to steer the conversation away from loud, baseless opinions towards evidence and confidence can only be a good thing.

Speak to you soon,


what to think about this week

From opinion-based to evidence-guided product development

In his keynote session at #mtpcon London 2022, Itamar Gilad, veteran product manager, coach and speaker with over 20 years’ experience at Google and Microsoft, examines how adopting Evidence-Guided Development can result in more reliable and repeatable decisions that empower teams to deliver greater value.

Repeatable, fair and quantifiable

[Itamar Gilad / Mind The Product]

From opinion-based to evidence-guided product development by Itamar Gilad

Idea prioritization with ICE and the confidence meter

We are often tempted to make a decision based on weak signals: majority votes, highest-paid person opinion (Hippo), industry trends, etc, but those have been shown time and again to be bad heuristics that are not any better than putting chips on a roulette table (hence the term “Big Bet”).

Stop investing in bad product ideas

VIDEO: How much product discovery is enough?

[Itamar Gilad]

How much product discovery is enough? by Itamar Gilad

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PRODUCTHEAD is a newsletter for product people of all varieties, and is lovingly crafted from precision laboratory glassware.

Read more from Jock

The Practitioner's Guide to Product Management book cover

The Practitioner's Guide To Product Management

by Jock Busuttil

“This is a great book for Product Managers or those considering a career in Product Management.”

— Lyndsay Denton

Jock Busuttil is a product management and leadership coach, product leader and author. He has spent over two decades working with technology companies to improve their product management practices, from startups to multinationals. In 2012 Jock founded Product People Limited, which provides product management consultancy, coaching and training. Its clients include BBC, University of Cambridge, Ometria, Prolific and the UK’s Ministry of Justice and Government Digital Service (GDS). Jock holds a master’s degree in Classics from the University of Cambridge. He is the author of the popular book The Practitioner’s Guide To Product Management, which was published in January 2015 by Grand Central Publishing in the US and Piatkus in the UK. He writes the blog I Manage Products and weekly product management newsletter PRODUCTHEAD. You can find him on Mastodon, X (formerly Twitter) and LinkedIn.

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