When in Doubt — Keep It Simple Product Managers

Browsing the twitter world this morning, I came across this.

Seriously, what the fuck? Who approved of this? Who is this Christopher Webb fellow? This is version 3? Whatever happened to the age old principle of “keep it simple stupid”?

Of course, this comes from Deloitte, so I’m not surprised they’ve made something so convoluted. How else are they going to sell services to clients? Sell them something so complicated that they’ll need to hire some overpriced consultants to make their way through it.

It’s similar to the banking and finance industry, where people in the industry will try to sell products and services that are overly complicated and throw terms your way they probably made up just to confuse people.

This agile landscape is along the same lines especially when looking at what Deloitte offers.

Take all your methodologies, all the apps you use, all your frameworks, your sales funnels, and put it aside for now.

When in doubt, keep it simple. What if you’re wrong? Readjust, and continue to move forward. That’s it. You don’t need to make it super complicated.

Seriously, could you imagine going into a meeting with your team and showing them the above image from Deloitte and saying “hey guys, we’re going to start implementing this”? The only scenario I would do this is I would bring it in, hold silence for a bit, and then tell them I’m joking, and we all laugh.

All things aside, as a product manager, you want to build the best possible product for your market.

That’s the goal. You want to address the problems that your customers are trying to solve. You want to listen to your customers. You want to continue to improve the product so that you’re able to help your customers solve their problems at a higher level than competitors. In some cases, you may find that your customers are using your product to solve problems that you didn’t even consider.

Did I mention listen to your customers? Keep it simple.

Now, to clarify on the point of listening to customers, there are cases where it can lead you astray (see my previous post on the subject), but this is for certain cases. As well, there is a huge difference to what your customer is saying, and what they actually mean. Because they ask for feature X, that doesn’t necessarily mean that they want that new feature. You need to dig deeper and find out why. What problem are they looking to have solved? You need to be curious. Be like a child.

To be a broken record, keep it simple.

Follow this Principle

You don’t need to be trying the newest app or SaaS that improves your efficiency by a tiny percent. You don’t need to try every new approach that gets recommended that you found on a medium blog post, a book, or hacker news. You don’t need to build a 234 step process to collect feedback from customers.

Remember, everything at the end of the day is a means to the end, instead of the end itself.

It’s easy for people to get way into agile, or way into this methodology and get swallowed up with everything. Yes, these methodologies are great. But remember, that you may need to adjust as necessary for your team.

Just keep it simple.

Originally published at www.pmpaul.com on December 7, 2016.