PRODUCTHEAD: Listen all y’all, it’s a sabotage

PRODUCTHEAD: Listen all y’all, it’s a sabotage

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

subterranean homesick product


Competing execs will sometimes sabotage by claiming features for their own product long before they plan to implement them

Your product roadmap can reveal symptoms of underlying organisational dysfunctions

We need to consciously remember that the needs of our users change over time

Many biases are underpinned by shared psychological mechanisms, such as the desire to feel positively about ourselves

a favour: please share this with other product people

every PRODUCTHEAD edition is online for you to refer back to


You do it to yourself, you do
And that’s what really hurts
Is you do it to yourself, just you
You and no one else
You do it to yourself
You do it to yourself

Just, Radiohead

This week I’ve been reflecting on the ways I’ve sabotaged my own work. (Mostly by saying something ill-advised because it sounded better in my head, but in other ways also.)

I find it properly annoying when someone on the outside points out the obvious flaws in what I’m doing. Like magic, the veil is lifted and all of a sudden I can see for myself the many and various ways I’m screwing up.

Of course, I was making mistakes all along, but I was blind to it — sometimes unknowingly, but honestly there was some wilful blindness in there also.

We need people around us like the child who pointed out the obvious in Hans Christian Andersen’s tale of “The Emperor’s New Clothes”. And while it may be a bit embarrassing to have our mistakes called out, we need to recognise we’re failing and put it behind us before we can set about improving things.

So here’s to a week of catharsis. Enjoy the content I’ve pulled together for you on the topic of self-sabotage (and don’t be too hard on yourselves).

Speak to you soon,


what to think about this week

As kids, it worked every time: Out of sheer greed, you claim the last Oreo by licking it and grossing out all your friends. As adults, it’s your colleague who tells everyone he plans to work on something just so no one else does – halting productivity and progress.

Whether it’s a pre-meeting before a meeting, or hitting “reply all” in an email, these little acts gunk things up as badly as a fistful of rice in a Humvee’s fuel tank.

A field manual for undercover saboteurs


Stop setting up product roadmaps to fail

Stop debating whether you are doing product roadmaps “right”, or whether roadmaps are evil. Look instead at the job you are hiring your roadmap to achieve. And then ask if the roadmap is the best tool for the job.

A litany of roadmap ills


Product Management Coaching

Whether you’re new to product management or have been a product manager for years, a coaching session can help you to step up your career.

We’ve coached people wanting to get into product management, product people with nobody in their organisation to manage them, and experienced product managers preparing to apply for a promotion.

We can help you prepare for your product manager interview, including mock interviews.

A proportion of the fees from every coaching session is donated to charity. Just reply to this email if you’re interested in finding out more.

3 ways the curse of knowledge can sabotage product people

“The curse of knowledge is a cognitive bias that occurs when an individual, communicating with other individuals, unknowingly assumes that the others have the background to understand.”

How to stay vigilant


An exploration of behavioural biases in project delivery at the Department for Transport

A review commissioned in 2017 by the UK’s Department for Transport (DfT) exploring the prevalence of common biases in the planning and delivery of national transport projects, and developing a range of potential interventions.

A peek inside what organisations do in real life


recent posts

You wouldn’t drive blindfolded – why you need user research

Imagine yourself jumping into your car, strapping in, and firing up the engine. You have a quick look around then pull on a blindfold before launching yourself into traffic. Likelihood of an accident? (Quite high.)

So why do so many take the exact same approach when it comes to creating products?

The common traps we fall into


Mission to Mars

Imagine you’ve just been told that you’ll be a member of the team responsible for the first manned mission to Mars.

Now imagine someone asks you how much the mission’s going to cost. The whole thing. There and back. By close of business on Thursday.

Aaaaaarrrrrrgggh. It depends


The neverending quest for product-market fit

Often the biggest barrier to your product’s widespread adoption is going to be whether it reaches product-market fit early on. Even if you do, you’re wrong if you think you never need to worry about product-market fit again.

It’s not a one-off exercise


can we help you?

Product People is a product management services company. We can help you through consultancy, training and coaching. Just contact us if you need our help!

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Helping people build better products, more successfully, since 2012.

PRODUCTHEAD is a newsletter for product people of all varieties, and is lovingly crafted from rogue variants.

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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