Michael Arrington recently wrote an article about Digg and its ‘travails’ on Techcrunch.
I know little about Digg, but I believe he makes a very good general point about Product Development. He wrote;
Product should be a dictatorship. Not consensus driven. There are casualties. Hurt feelings. Angry users. But all of those things are necessary if you’re going to create something unique.
I love that line. It speaks to me exactly about what is important in Product Development.
The Product Evangelist. The person who conceived the idea or the person who ‘owns’ the product in an organisation.
That person or persons should be front and central in any organisations conversation about that product with the market. As Jason Fried wrote in Rework;
Pour yourself into your product…how you sell it, how you support it, how you explain it and how you deliver it. Competitors can never copy the you in your product
It isn’t that the Product Owner is the only person who cares. Users, especially those dependent on the product, might think about the product on a day to day basis. But they only see their own view. Marketing and Sales and other groups can also provide input, but again in the context of the piece they know.
The Product owner is the only person who sees all this input. The Product Owner is only person who thinks only about their product on a day to day basis.
The Product Owner then should be the person who gets to soak up all the product ideas and to decide what goes in or what goes out. And when they go in and when they go out.
As Fried also wrote in his book, you need to draw a line in the sand;
You’ll turn some people off. They’ll accuse you of being arrogant and aloof. When you don’t know what you believe, everything…is debatable. But when you stand for something, decisions are obvious
So be a dictator, take casualties, be considered arrogant – just continue to deliver excellent products.