Tuesday, June 10, 2008

bullied: on changing product direction

Adam Bullied of Write That Down has posted a very heart-felt bit of thinking on the topic of changing product direction.

For those of us in the product management blogging community, there's an unspoken realization that our blog posts are occasionally indicators of what we're up to at any given moment. It's at times like this that we pull together, lending each other help and support.

And comments to their posts:

This is a very challenging topic, Adam, but you capture the secret key to it when you say "the other thing you can do is communicate early and often".

Changes in product direction that are required by shifts in strategy are best accomplished when (pardon my analogy):

You call attention to the fact that the wind has changed. . .

THEN you tell your passengers that you need to turn the wheel. . .

THEN you tell them what things will be like when you're on the new heading. . .

THEN you give them fair warning about when you're going to turn it so they can hold on to their drinks. . .

THEN turn the wheel. . .

THEN tell them that you've turned the wheel. . .

THEN report on your progress now that you've turned the wheel compared to earlier.

No one likes surprises, and no one likes to be confused. Changes in product direction that anticipate both of these feelings in your target audiences (internal and external) are better received. Even if the product changes don't get the job done, you are more likely to get permission to tweak them again if folks know you'll be transparent about it.

So if you're a product manager with some insights into this topic, go to Adam's blog and comment on his post. Because that's what we do, just like Donkey says at the end of Shrek. Well, kind of like that.

1 comment:

adambullied said...

Thanks for the link, Bob! Your comments are 100% accurate and (as always) much appreciated.

Over-communicating is a tough thing to do. I always end-up second guessing myself with, "why would people care about this little detail?" but I'm finding that they actually do.