Product officer or the product of an office?

Image by @jonathansimcoe

When was the last time you talked to customers strategically?

I know I could be better, more methodical about this. But hey, we're a small team.

On average, I think I manage to really talk strategically three times a month. The rest is absorbed in project management, ux decisions, roadmapping, and of course, data analysis. I try to do a full day on support but it’s just hard with everything that goes on.

I do nibble on customer conversations daily, reacting to problems and digging in. I also check every single piece of feedback that the team gathers. It helps but it’s not strategic. I feel strategic when I fire up Intercom with a set of rules and ask a tricky question in-app, with real time feedback. Or out of the building getting someone’s input — Mom Test style. Or translating feedback into jobs to be done by a feature (and debate personas vs. jobs vs. hippo truth).

Bringing customer conversations into actions & agreement. That’s when I feel like the product guy.

I guess I’m not alone. Every product person must be bad at it when in crunching mode — no matter how many cool blog posts we may read. It’s very easy to think you are becoming the product of an office when you’ve been heads down for weeks in the trenches with your team. I guess it’s the direct cost of shipping something difficult with limited resources.

I’m currently very lucky to be eating my own dog food. As a dog owner I’m the very target user of my product, and it helps. That doesn’t remove the feeling nor the risk of not seeing, though. PMs always crave more involvement.

I’ve been shipping projects and stuff in some shape or form for a decade. Back in my transport days, there was a saying “we are only as good as our latest delivery”. I’ve always kept that very close to my heart when releasing product (even throughout the lean hype!).

Shipping is what makes me tick, but shipping the right stuff is what matters. Today, I’m going (talking) back to basics.


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