January 17, 2012

here's to cognitive dissonance

I like what Jason has to say in reaction to Matt’s post about his bad Kickstarter experience. Worth quoting at length…

Shipping a product or app is hard. It requires experience, hard work, and a little luck. But providing effective and genuine customer service might be even harder because you just have sit there, take it, and react well under pressure over and over and over. The entrepreneur side of your brain is saying “this is a great product and I am proud of it and anyone who says otherwise is wrong and I will show them and succeed” and sometimes customer service is acknowledging publicly and repeatedly the exact opposite thing…that the product isn’t meeting needs, you are right, we will fix it, and thank you sir may I have another? That’s a lot of potential cognitive dissonance!

If one were to dramatically over simplify the two extreme approaches to managing products, one would be “have a vision and stick to it,” the other would be “listen to the market and react quickly.” As always, the real world is made somewhere in the middle, but not always at the same point in the middle. Not only are different approaches required for different types of products, but also at different points in a product’s life cycle. But more often than not, product people* live in that land of cognitive dissonance. As Jason points out, if you can find the place where pride and humility not only balance each other but work together to move the product forward…that’s magic.

* Defined expansively here to include product managers, designers, engineers, marketers, support people, bus dev, sales people…the entire team that it takes to deliver on a product’s potential.