Product Outcome Optimization
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Product management is a strategic role and it encompasses several aspects that need to be taken care of. As a product manager, one doesn’t immerse oneself entirely just in feature creation but focuses on problem-solving with an experience that makes users stick to the product without any hesitation.

Product management is already elegant and popular. But not being a very well defined function, it might be different to different people. But, there is certainly a common ground. In addition to that, what would it be if we have a manifesto for product optimization along the lines of the Agile manifesto? Could it be something like the below?

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Problem Management over Product Management:

When working on product management aspects, there are certain problem boundaries in which the PM operates. They work with an identified problem (often by somebody else) and march towards solution-ing. The scope becomes pretty limited in what one can do. But if someone is in problem management, they have more chances to identify the problems, select the problem to address first based on the rationale, and get someone to work on it. This helps one have a clear vision and communicate it well to all the stakeholders. Not that Product management is less worthy but Problem management could be the superset of that.

“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle”― Sun Tzu, The Art of War

Simplification over Scaling:

Do all the organizations have some loud and demanding customers? That’s probably a common known. Often, they come up with a lot of requests and try to impose their thoughts. Product managers got to oblige as these customers contribute to their bottom line significantly. The real needs might be overshadowed by them. Over a period, the product grows with several such features and could become a cause for customer dissatisfaction.

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Photo by JJ Jordan from Pexels

Experience over Effort:

The principle of least effort is a psychological principle that influences us all. We often choose something over another based on the effort involved in reaching the anticipated end goal. In the process, we trivialize the user experience factor. The UX debt isn’t an easy one to crack if it was thought about much later in the product lifecycle. So is the user experience just like how the design freedom is high in the early stages. The user experience journey should be a parallel process. Address the right need and address it right!

A pound of lead or a pound of feathers? — What weighs more?

Familiarity over Facts:

Data while being very useful can be fallacious. The context and environment, in which the measurements happen, play a vital role in deciding the near as well as long term course of action. For example, customer or user satisfaction is paramount and a lot of organizations take this very seriously. But in process of being seen as a very reliable business with happy customers, they employ not-so-worthy methods. Have you seen instances of organizations offering perks (like extended warranty or freebies) for giving them the highest satisfaction score? The customer might give them a perfect score but is that accurate data that can be used?

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Source: Dilbert comics

In conclusion, the idea is simple. Have a problem first mindset and NOT a solution first mindset. Keep the context in context while using the data for decision making. Use opportunities for customization through configuration and not based on individual customers. And nothing should outweigh the customer/ user experience.

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