Product Management lessons from baby sitting

Sometimes you can derive parallels in product management  from situations or roles in your daily life. Something totally different such as baby sitting can have parallels to situations in product management.

1. Assuming the user of your product is like you: Your constant concern as a parent is that the your baby (or toddler) eats well. I have felt several times that my kid does not seem to like the tasty porridge that we make for him rich with the finest almonds, raisins and saffron. Tasty for whom? Something that you feel tasty need not be tasty for the kid. Try having the same baby food over the next 5 days continuously and you will realize how tough it is and do not conclude something is tasty by just one single serving. Similarly, some of us decide what user needs by looking at what we like in the product – which can be shockingly wrong. The voice of the customer is the only grading sheet that matters for your product features.

2. Introducing product feature ahead of time: I learnt this the hard way. When my kid was 6 months old I bought a few toys which were for kids 12 months and above. I thought I will fast-track my kid. Crazy idea? Absolutely; the kid never used the toy the way it was supposed to until he turned 12 months. Every feature has its own place and time. There were many futile attempts at m-commerce as early as in 1998 when e-commerce was still in its infancy; needless to say things “ahead of time” serves no purpose.

3. Saying “yes” to everything: Your kid may want to pull a golden fish from the fish tank or jump into the pool. Will you agree to all such demands even if it makes the kid roll-over and throw a tantrum? I had a customer for my enterprise product who wanted the product to be available on the app store. Having the product on the app store did not seem like it would improve the user experience in this particular case as the enterprise has tight IT controls and frowns on any request for unapproved software. Some feature requests may be just for the heck of it – no basis at all. Ignore such requests if you cannot say “no”.

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