Working towards a deadline can become an obsession. It can seem to draw you in with the pull of a black-hole to such an extent that everything else becomes irrelevant, invisible, meaningless. This can be a positive experience, putting ever-greater focus on the event itself and exhorting significant extra commitment from you. But it can also have the negative effect of blinding you, changing your frame of reference and altering your sense of perspective. It can lead you to incorrectly conclude that there is nothing beyond the deadline and leave you exposed, and under-prepared.
As is so often the case, it requires a delicate balancing act to wring the maximum from the positives, whilst simultaneously avoiding any potential damage from the negative effects. Those who manage this well will be best-prepared for what follows immediately after the deadline. With major product launches and public announcements of new releases, Product Managers need to be aware of the pitfalls of becoming overly obsessed with a date – the date.
It’s sometimes difficult for a Product Manager to know whether customer expectations are there to be met or exceeded. Exceeding them has always struck me as the best way to deliver customer delight; merely meeting them must be the absolute bare minimum. Project & programme managers, on the other hand, often argue that exceeding expectations is setting the bar unnecessarily high, and that if expectations are set correctly in the first place, the objective should be to meet them.
But marketing messages can set expectations at an altogether different level. Are we reading too much into them? Are we being blinded by numbers and facts without questioning their relevance? For example:
A smartphonedisplay window made from Gorilla Glass is strong enough to withstand the weight of 10,000 elephants (yes, ten thousand) before it cracks.
A standard family car with a normal range of 800 miles can, with careful driving, cover more than 1,600 miles on a single tank of fuel.
I can’t understand how this happened. Surely the product wasn’t specified this way? Maybe pure laziness? I really don’t know, but I have my suspicions. Perhaps you’ve experienced the same?
Last week I found myself staying for 2 nights in an out-of-town hotel. The sort of boxy hotel which is cloned hundreds of times across the country, perfectly clean and functional but totally devoid of any personality. Fit for purpose, adjacent to a roundabout on an arterial road close to my destination – it was just the thing I was looking for.
These places always seem to be designed to the same specification – very much a “bare essentials” approach had been adopted, with everything in its place and nothing extra. Designed to meet, rather than exceed my expectations. With the exception of the TV remote, that is.
I was speaking recently with a potential client about their expectations of a product manager, and in particular how far they expected the role to reach. After resolving a few terminology issues, we agreed that the product manager should be the Go To person for the product.
As a product manager, you must be the Go To person for your product. If you’re not, why is there someone else who knows more about your product than you? And what do they know about your product which you don’t know? Your product must be your “specialist subject” (to use terminology from the popular TV programme Mastermind).
I spotted this notice attached to the underside of a toilet seat and couldn’t help stopping to read it in full. And having read it and wondered about it, I captured a picture to remind myself what I’d seen.
Ever experienced consumer delight when using a product or service? It’s a great feeling isn’t it? It’s exciting; pleasurable; intoxicating. But what actually is it? Where does it come from? Why is it so important? And why don’t we experience it more often?
What actually is consumer delight?
It’s hard to know exactly. And it’s almost impossible to predict but we certainly know it when we experience it. Rather like the proverbial bottle of great wine, many of us don’t understand enough detail to know we’re going to like it, but we certainly know it when we’re actually experiencing it.Continue reading →
I went out to dinner last week with 3 colleagues – just a few drinks and something to eat whilst we chatted. The staff took good care of us and we had a thoroughly good evening. As we were presented with the bill, we asked if we could add ten percent, split it four ways and pay with cards, but we were met with an “oops – sorry, we can’t do that“. This was the first problem we had encountered all evening. The waitress explained that the tills weren’t able to take payment for anything different from what was on the bill. Any tips would have to be paid in cash. She said it was a common problem and that she had told her boss about it, but “nobody ever listens“. We tried every way of “tricking” the system into allowing us to overpay but we failed and as none of us had any cash with us, we left without tipping the staff.
What makes this story all the more worrying, is that I had visited the same place four years ago with the same friends, and had experienced the exact same scenario. Continue reading →