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Widespread Product Management Anti-Patterns

link to original storyMar 22, 2017
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Anti-patterns are common responses to recurring problems that seem like a good idea. Upon closer inspection they are highly ineffective and detrimental to the organisation. These responses are very common. I will share 5 prevalent product management anti-patterns and how to resolve them.

1. Christmas Wishlist Product Backlog

As an organisation you do not want to lose any valuable ideas right? It seems to make a lot of sense to just create a ticket. This way everybody is happy and able to track their brilliant ideas. We want to make sure that we never lose that one magnificent idea we should have implemented. That amazing idea that would make us beat all our competitors. We do not have time for that ingenious idea now, but our future self will. Everybody in the organisation cherishes the product backlog like a Christmas Wishlist. Even if we never get what we want, we can still dream and be giddy in anticipation.

Except that an idea is worthless unless it is executed. Having an inventory, even for ideas, comes at a cost. The customer will call back to ask how it is going with their excellent idea. Why do we not move it forward? When will we finish it? Ideas can also become obsolete. A customer suggested a cool idea, but we solved it in an even better way with another cool feature. Suddenly we need to manage the idea backlog and close the original ticket. The company unexpectedly gains a lot of extra monkeys on their back that need to be managed.

Many companies have solved this problem by having an idea board where their customers can vote on features. Every month the company just looks at the top 10 ideas and decides which ones to work on. No need to manage this backlog other than looking at the top 10 most highly-voted features. If a customer is disappointed that we are not picking up their feature, the company can simply point out that our other customers did not find it valuable enough. No hard feelings.
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