In my previous post we had some good discussion regarding rule # 1:
The best product managers follow the Pragmatic Marketing maxim: Your opinion, while interesting, is irrelevant. Always use market facts to decide the best course of action.
The general sense of the responses was that this rule doesn't allow for innovation. So I tracked down Steve Johnson who was the source of the rules for comments. Here is his response (with permission):
Amazing that "use market facts" is somehow being misinterpreted as "Ask people what they want." The internet solved a huge, documented problem; people didn't ask for it by name but they had long asked for a solution to the problem of connecting businesses and consumers with a single connection point.
True, I don't rely too heavily on product management encouraging innovation; more often I need them to curb unfocused featureitis disguised as innovation.
Steve has a good point here. In the past I've noticed a similar disconnect between the desire to have "innovative" products and a willingness to collect data. Somehow people get to the point where what they believe is more important. This doesn't mean you have to ask people what they like, you can observe what they use, which is probably more accurate anyway.
Amazon, Ebay, Google and many others try new things all the time without lots of fanfare to see if they get used (i.e. market facts) to see if an idea is worthwhile.
Malcolm Gladwell in his Pop!Tech 2004 presentation (via ITConversations) talked about the Aeron chair and how people hated it at first, but gradually it became the best selling office chair of all time. His point was that people don't really know what they want. A common theme in software circles (the users don't really know what they need) there is some truth to it. But users (the market) will tell you if it is useful and you can save yourself a lot of time and effort if you collect some market facts.
Reference: A copyrighted story from SoftwareCEO written by Bob Weinstein Software product management: If you can't define it, you're doing a bad job at it and published by Pragmatic Marketing on productmarketing.com
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