The Ten Commandments of Product Management

The Ten Commandments of Product Management
The Ten Commandments of Product Management
Yes, there are more than 10 commandments listed here. We are being ironic.

It's Not You, It's Me

The biggest reason products fail is because customers don’t want or need the product you built

Use Data: An offensive and Defensive Weapon

Data is the most versatile corporate weapon.  Use it as an offensive weapon to get rid of the silly functionality requested by those with political power within your organization if they do not fit with the product strategy.  The corollary to this is never build a product/feature without a well defined success metric as you will need it to defend yourself against your corporate opponents.

Never Features. Always Themes

Always talk in terms of product themes when engaged in discussions with senior management. Refer to features at your own peril.

Should you choose not to follow this commandment, you will find yourself sitting in exceptionally long, sleep inducing meetings where irrelevant people have opportunity to fill your plate with lists of features that more often than are either trivial/obvious or Herculean task that don’t work with the product/corporate strategy.

The Average Salary Rule

The higher the average salary of the audience in any room, the less anyone really cares about the details of what you do.   This means that if you want to connect with these people, the more you should talk in high level vision type language and the less you should mention details.

Details and practicalities are things only those on the low end of the salary totem pole need to concern themselves with.

Be The Adult In The Room

When fur starts to fly and people are getting emotional, stay calm, cool and collected.

Never Assume You Know Your Customer

If you want to see a perfect example of confirmation bias in action (Confirmation bias is the tendency to seek out and use information that confirms one’s views and expectations). Ask your colleagues how well they know their customer, chance are everyone tells you that they know what their customers need (Wait, am I putting my confirmation bias about people’s confirmation bias on display here? How meta!).  Remember, these are merely opinions.

Opinions are like assholes - everyone's got one and they all stink

Someone smart on the internet
Most people have little to no idea what customers need until they’ve done some research. So save yourself some professional heartache and don’t skip this step.

Protect Yourself From All Things Pear Shaped

“Go pear-shaped” is a British idiom and honestly, if you can’t figure out what it means on your own, you should probably take a good hard look at yourself and your abilities to function as a responsible professional.

Put It In Writing

Always capture rationale for any decision in writing, especially when it consists of a “Just Do It” from upper management. Don’t be an ass about it, just fire off an email to those involved in the situation that summarizes the state of the nation. Your career may depend on it.

Known and Unknown Unknowns

Having the luxury of knowing all the facts before making a decision is a luxury afforded only to those in menial jobs or grade 5. Get used to the fact you will never know the full picture and stop whining about it already. Besides, its was separates the amateurs from the professionals.

Get comfortable being uncomfortable.

Learn to Say No

While Mick Jagger proclaimed “Anything worth doing is worth overdoing”, if you are thinking beyond a stage persona and more long term, develop the discipline of saying “No”.

Self-Control Is Just Empathy With Your Future Self

Ed Yong

Much like how you need to say no to yourself before you stuff that extra Oreo down your gullet, learning to say no when asked to make commitments to certain product requests may be painful in the short run, it can benefit everyone in the long run.  

Make Allies, Not Enemies

Does this need to be explained?

Beware The Fake Use Case

Much like how the OG Ten Commandments had two prohibitions against adultery, in order to demonstrate the severity of the “transgression”, the Product Management Ten Commandments have two commandment about making sure you know your customer just so you know we mean business too. Your goal here is to make implicit customer expectations explicit for you and your team so you can model and implement features that meet these expectations. Be careful about combining your bias and data to generate fake use cases. This happens when you and the rest of your yes men/women/nonbinaries come to the conclusion that all users have the same problem as you do. Remember, your brilliant ideas do not matter. The needs of your customers do.

Manage Time Estimate Like A CEO

Much like how CEO’s and senior executives talk in broad strokes when asked about the timing of milestone achievements, when asked about the delivery time of a feature/project, you are best served by being as non-committal as possible and talk in terms of quarter or corporate milestones.

Let whoever is asking the question get more specific in their request for clarification.

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