Paradox of a Product Manager

Rashi Rastogi
Apr 24 · 3 min read

“So who is most likely to buy Term Insurance, Men or Women? “ I asked my client who was CTO of an Insurance Organization, and while he was coming up with answer, which was not different from what I had assumed, I posed my second question “ So what’s the income range of these people?”. This questionnaire had multiple questions and at the end I was able to reach to a focussed group of people (customer base) for whom I will design my Insurance product. As usual my client was skeptical if we can segregate the group for whom we can design the product but, was convinced later when we flaunted our ability to group on basis of gender, income group, interests, number of children, hobbies, lifestyle etc.

I felt so accomplished after I had the data set in my hand, that I sat down hard on the chair and as I bent back, I shouted- “Why can’t they design the chair for a 5 feet female? Am I supposed to sit in chairs with either back not resting, or foots never resting on foot pedal?” And perhaps it was my fatigue that my tone had frustration which did not want to stop and wanted to take conversation a bit further. “And people ask me do I drive, I want to shout and tell them I want to, but cars in India are not designed for 5 feet. The seats are so designed that we can either look at road, or touch accelerator and brake. It’s stressful!! ufff”. Others around me were looking at me with a sorry face and perhaps they were thinking when was the last time when they had perhaps unknowingly offended me. Our long break was over and we went back to our board and I started “Well, so a 40 year old male executive with 2 kids and who does one vacation abroad, help me with — What he wants? and let’s start with our portal design”. On the same wall, towards the left there were many personas for whom we were not designing our product for. We were pretty clever in choosing our data set.

I live in this paradox — I am the living persona that other designers should have taken care of, and I land up designing products for a marginalized community. My constraints seem very real to me

a — I have to get the minimum usable viable product out for early feedback

b — I have to get the product out early to keep away competition

c — I have limited budget for now and this is the best I can do

d — I can safely de-prioritize 10% of my user base while enriching experience of rest 90%

I am sure those were the constraints for the car designer or the chair designer, and yet I feel frustrated.

I mask my intentions with statements that I will gather user feedback , I will prioritize them and I will build on that, when I know the whole process of prioritizing, arranging budget will take months or years.

I continue to live in this paradox. I am still staring at the wall proudly with half the population left out while I continue to design a new Insurance platform

(published this article on linkedIn previously —