Memos From Claudia on Product Management

Notes from a convo with Claudia around advancing or introducing new features to a product, and the time-honored tradition of auditioning new ideas in front of an existing customer:

  • The One Rule: Bring customers along.
  • Beware of politeness. Customers often don’t tell you what they really think to be polite. So they’ll say something else to avoid telling you that they don’t find what you’re showing them to be useful to them. This happens all the time.
  • Build the campfire with them. Find a customer who hates what you’re showing them. If it’s important enough to them, tell them how you want to whiteboard a better solution with them. “Show me!” And they’re now fully invested *and* critical.
  • Don’t be too impressed with yourself. Even when you make something cool, it doesn’t mean the customer will buy it. Will they grab it from your hands because they desperately need it *right now*? If not, that means something.
  • Low-fidelity is fine — so never waste engineering cycles. Who cares if it works? It doesn’t have to fully work to get the customer to understand the product enhancement’s thesis. Get that feedback early as possible. Feel their emotions.
  • Get the whole team in front of customers to get them to move faster. When the dev work has become boring or so-called “maintenance” work that is unappealing, expose them to customers whose success depends on their hands and minds. Their hearts will ignite accordingly.