Scientists vs Dreamers in Product Management

data driven vs imagination driven mindsets

Being data driven is considered a good thing, there is truth in it, but there is also truth in questioning it.

There is danger in prioritising reason over unreason when it comes to exercising the necessary freedoms that fuel absolutely irresistible products.

Letting data dictate the product objectifies people, resulting in products that have been conceived from fixed points of view and which ignore the emotions, subjectivity and contradictions that rule our human world.

If we think mechanically of product, then being data driven flourishes under this perspective. However, a product is not what it does, but the way people perceive what it does, the way people experience it.

Some Product Managers are so data oriented that if data does not tell or dictate the path, then ideas have no place portraying the product as an object of measurable function.

On the other hand, other Product Managers dream of the product as an experience designed for human beings whose feelings and thoughts are inseparable, subjective and in constant change.

If you see success in product as to whether a user resolves a goal, then you think of the product as a system, you see it rationally, logically.

Yet, if you can look beyond function you will also see success in whether a person feels the product as an emotional exchange, then you think of product as an experience.

The Scientist Product Manager designs by following pathways of logic, doing the “right” thing, creating and evolving products based on facts and figures.

The Dreamer Product Manager also designs contra-intuitively, some times doing the “wrong” thing, creating and evolving products based on a desire to invent and to evoke feelings in function.

There are good dreamers and bad dreamers, good scientists and bad scientists, but there are only dreamers and scientists ( — an observation I owe in inspiration to Dave Hickey’s Pirates and Farmers: Essays on Taste — )

Being rational constrains imaginative thinking, which is not about visualising things that do not exist, being imaginative means way more; it’s about understanding that new worlds can be created, worlds that do not exist, worlds for which there is no data.

Being a Dreamer Product Manager means shaping data as opposed to being shaped by it.

The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man.
George Bernard Shaw
Irish dramatist & socialist (1856–1950)