7 Deadly Vices in Product Management | Hacker Noon

@kishv

Life long student of technology. Heads pre-sales & Product Management at an IOT Startup for a living

Working as a product manager at a IOT startup, I realised that the IOT Product Management is a bit different from the Product Management of a typical Software / SaaS product. To equip myself better, I started scouting for product management books from a hardware / IOT standpoint. In that process came across this amazing book called Prototype to Products by Alan Cohen. This book clearly articulates what goes into IOT / hardware Product Management and what needs to be done additionally.

What are these vices and why do I need to worry about them?

Fundamental principle of product management is uncover “surprises” as early as possible so that they can be addressed early at a lower cost. Surprises lead to change, is easy to implement during the early stages of development and will cost more later on. The cost of change escalates further if there is hardware component and if it fails under certain operating parameters then the cost of replacing them once they are mass produced or already deployed then it will be exponentially higher.

Seldom product failures are due to lack of “inspiration”, rather they happen during “perspiration” (design & build), that is when the concept is developed to a product. Many of these are attributed to these 7 deadly vices of product management along with their 11 sins.

These vices are Laziness, Assumption, Fuzziness, Cluelessness, Perfection, Hubris, and Ego.

I will be elaborating these vices & sins in a series of posts, starting with the Vice of Laziness.

What is the Vice of Laziness?

As per the Oxford dictionary,

Laziness is the quality of being unwilling to work or use energy.

In other words, as a Product Manager, you would end up putting off something important till the later part as you would want to spend your energies on defining the product to “perfection” (another vice, I will explore further in my later posts).

So, you’ll end up postponing or putting off important tasks like validation / testing to later part of product engineering like end of development.

Now, the problem is if you start pushing some of these validations like design, manufacturing process etc. to the end, will set you on the path of failure.

Some of the products that have failed due to vice of Laziness:

  • Samsung Note 7 – Known for its “exploding” capabilities. The phone’s battery was inadequately tested leading to battery defects which caused many Note 7 units to overheat and combust or explode. Samsung had to completely pull the product (~2.5 million pieces) out of the market

How to overcome this Vice?

Well, one of the biggest challenges of early testing / validation is non-availability of the product as a whole or some of its key features that are required during validation. There are some strategies that can help in such a scenario:

  • Reviewing the competing products
  • Visit client sites, where the product will be operated
  • Observe the users, on how they would most likely be using the product
  • Try beta tests/ soak tests / pilots to get a view of “testing in the wild”

Such strategies can at least help in mitigating the risks arising out of the Vice of Laziness.

My next set of posts will cover the other vices, with some more practical / real life examples.

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