Dark Product Management

If there were an Ig Nobel prize for product management, they should award it to product managers who march blindly toward failure. Those who toil endless hours (and have others do the same) to build a product that no one needs or that doesn’t do what it’s supposed to do. After all, this great resource spend should be honored in some way, and the market is certainly not going to give them accolades.

Every time I see a dead-on-arrival product I think to myself “someone must have known about this well in advance.” That someone should be the product manager, and if they didn’t see it coming they are twice at fault. The healthcare.gov debacle is one very public example; other failures usually remain in the dark. As large a project as that website ecosystem is, someone – a product manager or whatever their title is – must have been tasked with seeing the big picture and understanding the details. Or maybe there wasn’t such a person (or people) assigned? Scary thought.

Product management usually gets little visibility, positive or negative, other than among the people closely involved in creating the product. It’s a shame, because product managers contribute to significant achievements and spectacular failures. These often make for great stories, seldom told beyond that small team. Such a waste of notoriety; someone ought to write a book about it.