A Tale of Two Product Managers

The first PM starts mocking up and designing solutions to the problems he discovered during a round of customer interviews. He goes deep into each feature with precise, clear detail into how the interface should behave and perform.

After an hour he realizes he doesn’t understand some of the pieces so he gets the customers back on the phone and probes them a bit further. With answers in hand he’s back to work.

Another few hours go by and he’s got a pretty good design for a new feature as well as how it will work within their current systems.

The second PM starts distilling the problems she discovered during a round of customer interviews. She goes deep into understanding each problem with precise, clear details.

When she’s stuck, she calls the customers back on the phone to drill further into their specific problems so she can make sure the right solution is developed. Rather than asking how they’d like the problem solved she gets them to reveal the way they’re doing things now.

With this in hand she delivers a well thought out problem document for the team to review and discuss. Only after it’s well understood by the three other team members do they decide if and when new solutions will be designed.


Assuming the problems the customers faced were genuine and not easily solved by the current design, which scenario:

  • is more likely to ensure the customer will succeed?
  • was good with their use of time?
  • will instill confidence in the mind of the customer?
  • gets the team on the same page?
  • ensures the PM will earn respect from the team?

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