Posted by: Ivan lybbert | October 9, 2009

7 Deadly Sins of Product Management

dont_try_it_at_home_tshirt-p235784536727667352qmr8_400Whilst thou art doing thy business as a Product Manager, behold, there are certain paths thou shalt not traverse.  These sins are incongruent with righteousness, and shall bring the greatest judgments against thee!  Read these proverbs, and heed the warnings issued herein.

Or, in other words, don’t try these at home…

Gluttony – You have three customers: development, marketing and sales.  We all have one group we’re most comfortable with, but if you ignore the others, your product and release will be out of balance.  If you’re all about development, then sales and marketing won’t have confidence in you.  If you spend too much time in sales, then the development team will build whatever they want and marketing won’t have the right positioning.  You get the point.  Balance, Daniel-son!

Greed – Glory hound?  Want all the credit?  Give yourself a public high-five, and suddenly the people that actually did most of the work will leave you hanging.  When successes come in, spread the joy to everyone around you.  It will come back better than you thought.

Sloth – If you make a commitment, keep it!  If you’re not able to keep your commitment, let the person know that you’re going to be late.  Never go incommunicado (yeah, it’s a word) or else people will just think you’re lazy.

Pride – So you’re smart, huh?  You’ve been in the industry a while, huh?  Don’t get a fat head!  Get out there and talk to your customers.  Be willing to listen to those who aren’t analysts and you might see a need before everyone else does.

Wrath – Don’t get mad at people who play politics.  One day I’ll write a whole series about how politics ruin an organization, but for now, just avoid them.  Play nice with everyone and your blood pressure won’t pop your head off.  If someone is trying to play the blame game on you, get your facts straight and go to bat for yourself.

Envy – So you have great competition?  Do you find yourself adding the same features they put in their last release?  Got “me-too” disease?  Don’t you want the Blue Ocean?  Come up with something new and leave your competition behind.  It’s easier than you think; take your focus off your competition and onto your customer and I bet you’ll find the Golden Ticket.

Lust – If you find yourself “pining for the fjords”, you’re in trouble.  We all love future releases, because that’s when our product will ROCK!  Right?  But don’t oversell the future and freeze your current market.  If your customers see a tear of joy in your eyes of tomorrow, they’ll just wait until that release comes out and delay their purchase (btw, sales reps don’t dig that).

I would love to hear your versions of any of these 7 deadly sins!



  1. My definition of “sloth” would be a little different–focused more on allowing bad projects to move forward when the facts on the ground say you should stop. Too often, it seems things just keep rolling because they’re already in motion and no one has the data and/or guts to say, “Stop the presses!”

  2. Great point Chris. And why is it that we all have such a hard time calling off a bad release? Do we somehow feel that “we” are letting everyone down by temporarily stopping? It would be interesting to find a method or a process that allows something bad to stop without letting blame land on an individual.

    Maybe there’s a little Pride in there too :)

  3. Great post. I really agree with Greed and Pride. Product Management is a team sport and nobody wants to work with an arrogant PM. The role is important but it isn’t the only important thing that’s happening in a company.

    • Amen Sister!

      Like I keep telling my teenager, “believe it or not, it’s not all about you!” I love how you describe it as a team sport. Everyone creating the product is on the field and can equally limit the team with a poor performance.

      Thanks for the comment April.

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