Focusing on outcomes and customer needs alone isn’t good enough anymore. Applying ‘best practices’ without consideration of potential unexpected consequences can only end in tears… A more holistic view – antidotes – are required to ensure long-term sustainability of organisations (individual welfare, society and the environment).
Product management practices cannot exist in a vacuum
Applying any practice in isolation is risky: we must consider them in relation to our context and values. Then we can understand their impact holistically and make informed decisions.
Applying product ‘best’ practices such scaling, personalisation, data collection or innovation in a thoughtless or even zealous way can easily lead undesirable consequences: annoyed users and the need to rebuild customer relationships, a reduction of profitably indirectly or directly, negative impact to an organisations public perception and brand, endangering a businesses long-term viability, or detrimental impact to society at large be the economic, social, cultural political or environmental.
Our premise is that as product managers, for all these reasons above, we need to ‘do better’ – and we can.
The Antidote to Modern Product Practices
Ethical Product Management
Now make no mistake, we are very aware of the fact that there is no black and white. We are not suggesting a moral or ethical framework. While we have very strong opinions, and find Sam Harris‘s suggestion intriguing that there is a scientific, objective framework to objectively assess human happiness and consequently formulate strategies and policies that are rooted in logic rather than vague notions of right or wrong we stay well clear of those in this talk.
However, what we strongly believe that there is value in being clear, transparent and honest about motivations, values and goals, and that decisions – based on an understanding of intended and unintended outcomes – must be aligned with those.
Whether everyone else agrees with the underlying ethical framework might be a different discussion.
Having said that, we’d like to think that awareness and mindfulness of this clearly complex matter, will automatically lead to overall better judgement and outcomes.
My co-creator and co-presenter Neha Datt is a product and change consultant who has built, led and enabled teams across startups, SMEs and distributed global companies.
From delivering strategic (sometimes unsexy) internal platforms to finding product-market fit with disruptive new business models, she loves geeking out on all things people, product and change.
More recently she’s been focusing on how to bring change when systemic levers are working against you. Companies are designed to turn a profit, not to solve customer problems. People are socially conditioned to serve their egos over their curiosity. Success is still defined as vertical progression rather than depth of expertise. You know the rest…
Other than her work, Neha loves reading, watching the latest Taika Waititi release and heading Down Under to battle once-in-100-year weather events with her family and childhood friends.
Follow Neha on Twitter.
Video of an earlier version of our talk at Equal Experts. We’ll release the updated AOTB version soon…
Want to know more?
Here are a number of additional resources that you might find interesting…