The Top 12 Product Management Mistakes
And How To Avoid Them
Martin Cagan Silicon Valley Product Group
THE TOP 12 PRODUCT MANAGEMENT MISTAKES – AND HOW TO AVOID THEM
Martin Cagan, Silicon Valley Product Group
Bad products are everywhere. Products that simply aren’t useful, don’t work right, are too difficult to learn, or that take forever to sell. Little wonder, as there are so many things that have to go right in order to create a successful product. There are, however, some pitfalls that occur so frequently and are so damaging that we believe they are at the root of the vast majority of bad products. In this paper we review each of these pitfalls and describe why it’s so easy ...view middle of the document...
Second, customers don’t know what is possible. It takes significant time and expertise to stay abreast of the many developments in technology that may apply to your problem. Third, customers aren’t in a position to see the wide range of needs and opportunities. The customers are busy with their own lives and jobs and don’t have the time to learn about others in the market and how their needs may be similar or different. Product management is responsible for defining the right product. It is the job of the product manager to deeply understand the target market and their needs, and then to work to combine what is possible with what is desirable, to create products that solve real problems. This is why top product managers often come from the engineering ranks; they understand what is possible, and when they see an unmet need they can often envision new and innovative solutions. Product marketing is also very important, just very different. Product marketing is all about communicating what the product does to the target market, and supporting the sales channel with the tools they need to effectively sell. Good product marketing is difficult and critical, but it is not at all the same thing as inventing the actual product. 2. Confusing Innovation with Value Innovation without a clear purpose is simply technology looking for a problem to solve. There are countless products on the market today simply because they were now possible, not necessarily because they solve a real problem, or solve the problem better than other solutions. What motivates the engineers on the product team may not be the same thing that motivates others. Engineers care a great deal about the technical challenge itself, and the particular technologies that they get the opportunity to learn and use. However, if the engineering team is provided with a clear vision and product strategy, and if the engineers are provided the opportunity to see the customer problems directly, then they can often come up with innovative solutions to very real problems, and breakthrough products can result. The key is that innovation needs to happen in the context of a vision and strategy. The innovation needs to be in support of providing true customer value.
© 2005 Silicon Valley Product Group
3. Confusing Yourself with Your Customer It is very natural and all too easy to think of yourself as more like the target customer than you really are. The reason this is so dangerous is that when we come to think of ourselves as a proxy for our customers, we apply a very different standard to the product. There are many negative consequences of this confusion, but the most common is an unusable product. For example, you may be able to learn and use your product quite easily, yet the actual target customer, who is not immersed in the world of similar products, may find the product overwhelming, complicated, frustrating, and completely unusable. Or, given...