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The Way Of The Product Whatchamacallit

Published: January 19, 2016

Behold the Product Whatchamacallit! The who? Who knows? The Internet sure doesn’t.

What does it do? Does it have a tail? Does it own or manage? Mini-CEO or minion? Who knows!? The Internet sure doesn’t. Maybe this dolphin does. Nope.

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Ever feel like a smart dolphin utterly confused by Product Management?But I’ll tell you about a recipe. It’s simply, simply simple!

Ingredient #1

Find a bunch of motivated hackers, builders, crafters, makers, designers of all stripes (coders are designers, also), inventors, and visionaries. Trust them, they’ve got a lot in common. Don’t separate them into departments. Departments are for Sears and Macy’s.

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Together We Make Stuff. And Trust The Other People Know Their Shit#### Ingredient #2

Start talking to humans together, observe their problems, and ponder how to solve those problems. Build a bit. Test your assumptions, tweak, and repeat. Sell it. And talk to those salesamajigs. They’ve got feelings too.

**Mind **Your Business

At this point hopefully you are all still “the business”. The product is everyone’s business, not some distant group of people who sit in a frosty windowed conference room dreaming up the work you’ll do for the next year (and claim you’re still empowered to solve the problem). Fight for this for as long as humanly possible. Decentralize. Look skeptically across the room when someone says that you (codeword engineering and UX) just need to “execute on the roadmap” and then doles out projects.

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The Sorcerer And The Magic ProjectMap#### The Product Whatchamacallit

So you are still The Business. It’s Your Business To Mind. Your Product To Mind. Phew. Even then, there will probably be some need for a Product Whatchamacallit, but the role will be much more helpful and tangible. She’ll be a person the team would hire if they controlled the budget (not such a crazy idea, actually). Because that person will DO helpful stuff and earn their keep, not just lubricate the three creaky gears of your org.

If you happen to be that lucky person -- and trust me this isn’t the standard “recipe for burnout, can’t wait till I’m in biz dev or strategy” role -- then read on. Embrace the Whatchamacallit Way.

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Maybe? Could it be?### The Way Of The Product Whatchamacallit

  • Show empathy NOT indifference
  • Ask why and who NOT how and what
  • Serve teams NOT agendas
  • Be guided by principles NOT plans
  • Be a team-member NOT a team-driver
  • Focus on challenges and needs NOT titles
  • Treat teammates like creative makers NOT resources
  • Provide context and data NOT solutions and platitudes
  • Have suggestions and opinions NOT demands and fiats
  • Be curious and open NOT dismissive and stubborn
  • Harness diversity NOT conformity
  • Embrace simplicity NOT oversimplification
  • Deliver outcomes and impact NOT features and output
  • Build less NOT more
  • Be transparent NOT opaque or manipulative
  • Be accessible NOT elusive or overbearing Together we deliver valuable outcomes and delight the humans who use and pay for our product, and the business and team will benefit. We’ll feel good about our work, and customers will come up to us in airports when we wear our shwag t-shirts and thank us.

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Our handy dandy trust laden Kanban magnetsGo forth Whatchamacallit ! They’ll tell you “it’s not that simple”! Ask Why five times and see where you get …

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