Shit Product Managers Say, Translated

Stephen Cognetta
Jan 8, 2018 · 3 min read

“Hey, let’s close the loop offline. I’ll block some biweekly time for us to sync. Gentle ping to submit your AI.”

What the heck are these PMs saying, and how did they all end up speaking the same language? Here are nine of the most classic phrases that product managers use, and what they actually mean.

1. Block Some Time

“A meeting sounds great, Lisa. I’ll block some time for us to chat.”

Translation: I’m going to book a calendar meeting and it sounds cooler to say “block time” than “schedule a meeting.”

2. Take this offline

“Interesting point, Karena. Let’s take this discussion offline.”

Translation: We’re wasting everyone’s time by having a 1:1 meeting in a group setting, can we talk about this later please?

3. From the user’s perspective…

“Man, adding five hundred buttons to the main UI would definitely give a lot of control to our users. But from the user’s perspective…”

Translation: Hey Engineer/Businessperson/Designer/Manager/Marketer, you’re not thinking about how the actual end-user is going to care about the product. It doesn’t matter if it takes half time or if the design language is super advanced, what the user cares about is what matters.

Aside: This statement’s a great juggernaut to add to a meeting — after all, who can argue with the “user’s perspective”?

4. Straw Man

“Ok, we need to fix the 404 page. As a straw man, what if we just make it black?”

Translation: OK, we need some kind of initial idea to start brainstorming so let me just throw out the quickest idea that comes out of my mouth and we can go from there.

5. AI

“Ok, I’ll send out the AI’s from the meeting, we just have one AI assigned to me.”

Translation: If I were an engineer this would mean Artificial Intelligence. Nope, what I care about are action items. Let’s assign some todos!

6. Synced

“Michael and I synced yesterday, we’re in alignment about the button coloring product launch.”

Translation: Chatted. It really just means chatted.

7. Gentle ping

“Gentle ping…”

Translation: It’s been two entire days and you haven’t responded on this thread what is wrong with you are you even alive can you please respond to me hello you there?

8. The feedback is…

“The feedback is to make the product not have a huge block of text in the center of the page.”

Translation: I’m too afraid to back up my personal opinion so I’m going to reference a vague third-party “feedback” that says my product perspective.

9. Low-hanging fruit

“Let’s tackle the low-hanging fruit first — if we just make the button bigger, we should get a 100x clickthrough rate.”

Translation: Hey engineer, if you just do this one quick thing for me I promise it will make our managers proud of us.

how hackers start their afternoons.

Stephen Cognetta

Written by

Ex-product @Google, Princeton CS. I help PMs get their dream job @ More about me:

how hackers start their afternoons.

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