Getting blindsided in product management

Assumptions, differentiation, differentiation, Marketing, Product Management

When an idea for a product or service is our baby, even though we ask ourselves and all our team members of the possible issues that the product (or service) may have, we miss out on some of the most elementary things. This generally happens because all our team members get involved in group think.

For a product management guy getting blindsided by this kind of mistake ends up being most expensive , as you don’t realise “what hit you”. What you think as an essential differentiation could be a worthless factor which increases costs.

On the other hand two simple mechanisms that I use to try to exploit all the possible lacunae or weak spots in my thinking are:

  1. Red team, blue team: In thisI make it into a game where I have one team specifically work on figuring out all the items about my offering that the other team can utilise to beat my product. This is the same concept that armies of friendly countries use during their war games. Once the fatal flaws are identified, you then go about correcting them before you get into the market. Sometimes in these exercises, I have also heard comments like – “there is nothing about your product that we even need to bother about, we can beat it very easily”. If you hear this kind of a comment, it means you are in deep trouble. If your internal team doesn’t think your product has any strengths, then you better figure out something new.
  2. The second method I have found useful is to get a finance guy to figure out the plan and numbers. Typically finance guys are very good at doing a post-mortem and want artefacts for every assumption for all their bills. They will ask you for all your background checks and will help you surface the assumptions.

Getting internal people telling you all the possible negative feedback helps you build a much better product offering.

Till next time then.

Carpe Diem!!!

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