I read a nice blog post on the Harvard Business Review website by Rob Johnson who worked with Steve Jobs to create the wildly successful Apple Stores. The following quote caught my eye:
So the challenge for retailers isn’t “how do we mimic the Apple Store” or any other store that seems like a good model. It’s a very different problem, one that’s conceptually similar to what Steve Jobs faced with the iPhone. He didn’t ask, “How do we build a phone that can achieve a two percent market share?” He asked, “How do we reinvent the telephone?” In the same way, retailers shouldn’t be asking, “How do we create a store that’s going to do $15 million a year?” They should be asking, “How do we reinvent the store to enrich our customers’ lives?” (emphasis mine)
This is a great point, and is especially important for product managers building high-tech products to embrace.
Product Management Should Focus on Enriching Customers’ Lives
At many companies, the primary focus of the Product Management team seems to be on metrics like market share, competitive comparisons, win/loss rate, etc – and not enough on adding true value to customers. While such focus may lead to short term benefits, I believe this is counter-productive over the long-term.
There are many other departments (such as Sales teams) who, I believe, are better suited to focus on short term metrics. Product Management teams, on the other hand, can add the most value by focusing on new ways to “enrich customers’ lives” by reinventing the status quo.