PRODUCTHEAD: Ethical product management

ok product

Posted on Monday, 3 May 2021


Product managers must understand the impact of their products on society as a whole

Now is the time to push for broader product management accountability

No company, individual or set of activities, yet provides a clear-cut example of ethical best practice

What we build must not be at the cost of another group’s needs

Nothing in traditional product training prepares you for making ethical decisions


I was interviewed by Paul Booth for a forthcoming episode of his forthcoming Product Stories podcast and we ended up talking about ethics in product management.

History provides us with plenty of tragic examples of the unintended consequences of poorly thought-out products or backfiring marketing campaigns.

As product managers, we make choices about the design, business model and marketing of our products. This means we’re responsible for the implications of those choices also.

So what can we do in practice to consider the consequences of our product, unintended or otherwise? To get you started, I’ve pulled together some helpful content on ethical product management.

Speak to you soon,


If you’re enjoying this week’s edition of PRODUCTHEAD, you can subscribe below to receive it straight to your inbox for free.

Subscribe to my PRODUCTHEAD newsletter here

what to think about this week

Let’s Resolve to Create Humane Products

Fellow product managers and product leaders: have you ever had a moment when you’ve asked yourself, “am I really doing good with my product?”

Why don’t we ask ourselves a simple question when we create our products and services: are they humane?

Be more humane


Product Consequences and a Product Code of Ethics?

I’ve been thinking about tech products that are doing harm in the world — intentionally or otherwise. And whether a code of ethics or other agreement among product leaders/product managers would be helpful.

Framing the problem


Product Management Coaching

Whether you’re new to product management or have been a product manager for years, a coaching session can help you to step up your career.

We’ve coached people wanting to get into product management, product people with nobody in their organisation to manage them, and experienced product managers preparing to apply for a promotion.

We can help you prepare for your product manager interview, including mock interviews.

A proportion of the fees from every coaching session is donated to charity. Just reply to this email if you’re interested in finding out more.

Book a session

How To Make Ethical Choices When Developing Software

There are some questions about the practice of “ethical product development” that I’m asked all the time from folks actively working on products. For example, how do you define an “ethical” product? Or who should lead ethical product development? And, can you really make a difference from inside an organisation?

Common questions answered


Human-Centered Products

Everybody is trying to create products that make people’s lives better. However, by simply focusing on metrics, rather than the humans behind them, we risk making bad decisions that have unintended consequences for people and society. Kim Goodwin elaborates in this video of her talk.

Choose the right metrics


A Code of Ethics for Product Managers?

We’re all about getting things done. The right things done. But “right” means more than optimal, more than product-market fit or market share or profitability. Sometimes it’s the difference between right and wrong.

Let’s talk about it


recent posts

Good product management

New technologies have presented product managers with yet another new challenge to add to the growing list: how to create products that are not only successful but also ethical.

Be more human


The product leader’s guide to interviewing

Because I tend to help organisations build up their product team from scratch, I’m often involved in the interviewing and hiring process, so I’d like to share with you my product leader’s guide to interviewing product managers.

Countering unconscious bias in recruiting


Mission to Mars

Imagine you’ve just been told that you’ll be a member of the team responsible for the first manned mission to Mars.

Now imagine someone asks you how much the mission’s going to cost. The whole thing. There and back. By close of business on Thursday.

Aaaaaarrrrrrgggh. It depends


The neverending quest for product-market fit

Often the biggest barrier to your product’s widespread adoption is going to be whether it reaches product-market fit early on. Even if you do, you’re wrong if you think you never need to worry about product-market fit again.

It’s not a one-off exercise


can we help you?

Product People is a product management services company. We can help you through consultancy, training and coaching. Just contact us if you need our help!

Product People Limited logo

Helping people build better products, more successfully, since 2012.

PRODUCTHEAD is a newsletter for product people of all varieties, and is lovingly crafted from dashed hopes and broken dreams.




PRODUCTHEAD is my free curated newsletter of the best articles, videos and podcasts from product leaders and commentators all over the world. All neatly packaged up in a weekly email delivery for your reading, viewing and listening pleasure.

Recommended from Medium

Applied wellness and Product Management

The PM “Guide” to Pendo

What Is A Product Manager?

Why do we consume caffeine?

What a team knowledge hub could be

This Is Why WordPress Product Owners Need to Capture User Email from Day 1

Presales and project estimation process: how to avoid mistakes?

My favourite Product Management resources

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Jock Busuttil

Jock Busuttil

Freelance head of product, author & founder of My surname tends to come up as ‘Bushtit’ in spell-checkers. I also blog at

More from Medium

Three key takeaways from La Product Conf Madrid

Product Manager 101: Value vs Effort Framework…

PRODUCTHEAD: Stakeholders are people too


It’s Not Just About Building Product — It’s About Building People: Insightful Chats with Yassen…

Downtown Calgary Stephen Avenue Skyscraper and Art