Think about someone for whom you have a tremendous amount of respect. What are the characteristics that draw you to that person? Most likely he or she has the ability to plow through difficult circumstances and come out on top; to learn from mistakes and create successful outputs. Successful people solve problems and create opportunities.
When times get tough, and problems seem to abound, remember these cogent words of Thomas Edison: “Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.”
The Product Management Perspective: A central component to solving problems is problem statements. Well-thought-out problem statements have the potential to create new and exciting opportunities for your products. The interesting thing about problem statements — as compared with inputs (Enhancement Requests, Call Reports, Market Research, etc.) and outputs (Requirements, MRD/PRDs, etc.) — is that product managers are left to do these on their own. They do not have pressure from sales people as they might with capturing some of the inputs. They do not get feedback from the development and QA teams as they do with requirements and MRD/PRDs.
Problem statements might be the only output from product management that is truly their own. Product managers who understand their markets well, filter the inputs effectively and create compelling problem statements will increase their success at producing great products.
Disclosure: The ideas for this post came from an invigorating conversation this morning with my friend and colleague Stewart Rogers.