Product Management Fortune Cookie: Count on one’s real customers being so.


1 month of research and planning.  Another month for development.  It was a powerful and lean version one of a product for our target small and medium sized business owners with less than 1000 products within their for-sale inventory.  Nearly everything was automated, and the rest was so easy to use.  All you needed was rudimentary experience with Excel — the product we modeled our initial UI after.  And, of course, everyone knows how to use Excel.  From customer #3, their first comment:  “This product is great, but what do I do with this grid of boxes?”  Uh oh.

At another place and time, a different product of mine had reached the time for a major overhaul of its API.  The old one had always been known for clunkiness and providing more information than was ever desired.  My users were just like me, similar education, similar experiences, and primarily internal to the organization.  What was produced was a very powerful suite of API’s, you could do just about anything.  Everyone was very excited to use this product.  On Day 3, the most common request: “How can I get this object along with all its related records?”  Easy, as long as you write all the code to do it. Ooops.

Your customers are not merely numbers within a set of 30-day-actives or sales figures or demographical statistics. Whether you manage internal or external products, front-end or back-end, losing touch with the real people that are your customers is a recipe for a product disaster.  Envision your consumer’s days, their lives, their unstated needs, and opportunities of great worth will present themselves.

What Product Management fortune cookies do you have to share?


Jeremy Horn
The Product Guy

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About Jeremy Horn

Jeremy Horn is an award-winning, product management veteran with 2 decades of experience leading and managing product teams. Jeremy has held various executive and advisory roles, from founder of several start-ups to driving diverse organizations in online services, consumer products, and wearables. As founder of The Product Group, he has created the largest product management meetup in the world and hosts the annual awarding of The Best Product Person. Accelerating the next evolution of product management, Jeremy acted as creator and instructor of the 10-week product management course at General Assembly and The New School, and mentoring at Women 2.0 and Lean Startup Machine (where is he also a judge). To see where Jeremy is now check him out at (1) and (2)