The worst sin that a Product Manager can commit is to become prideful. Pride breeds arrogance, and arrogance leads to ignoring your customers because you believe you know what they need better than they do. Pride is the number one trait that I believe a business needs to guard against, because it leads to bad products, bad customer service, and lost customers.
One of my old bosses and mentors uses the phrase “Pride Comes Before the Fall.” I always understood it, at least on an intellectual level, but yesterday it hit me in the face – hard. We’ve recently been working on an important new product that we want to launch in 2007. I and my team did significant primary and secondary research, the problem that this product will solve is well understood, and we have data to back up our requirements. Development, in the normal course of reading our MRD, came back with possible solutions to the requirements we outlined. Some of these requirements involved breaking the product into multiple products for ease of development. The trade off was time to market versus our perceived completeness of product.
I was discussing the issue with my Executive, and we had talked to our internal tech support and gauged their perception of the proposed change (highly opposed, as was I), and we were ready to fire off an email with harsh push-back. Right before we hit send, I felt a twang that something wasn’t right. I said “let’s talk to a few customers and get their feedback before we do this.”
Long story short, we talked to some customers and it was not as clear cut as we thought. Some customers liked the idea of breaking it into multiple products. Most didn’t. The point however is that I made an assumption that all of my customers would hate the idea because I hated it. That’s pride, and it always comes before the fall. Next time, I’ll be more on guard.