3 big dumb assumptions (via @ProductFocus )

…sometimes you start reading something and realize the author is making one of 3 big dumb assumptions.

From April, 18th newsletter


1. The first is that every company is digital and using Agile.

OK, yes, a huge number of companies are but there are still lots of companies that don’t make their living from software products. Maybe they deliver services or have physical products. Maybe their product is a mix of hardware, software and services.

And I often see a default assumption that their reader will be using Agile.

Yes, Agile is huge and important and so we spend time looking at the implications for product managers on our training courses. But I also know from our industry survey and discussions with senior product managers that many companies still use Waterfall some of the time and pure Agile is not the answer to everything – no matter what Development tell you.


2. The second is that if Google, Apple or Facebook does something then it must be right for everyone else.

Of course, these star companies are doing something very right or they wouldn’t be so successful, but they also have very deep pockets. They can afford to make lots of mistakes that the rest of us can’t risk.

They also all have a strong consumer focus which can mean very different challenges compared to those of us working in B2B.

And, so whether it’s their business model, HR strategy, customer responsiveness or product management – whatever the author wants to justify is claimed as a key reason for their success.


3. The third is that it’s all about start-ups.

That’s where it’s happening, that’s where all the hype is, that’s why this time next year we’ll all be millionaires!

Yes, start-ups are exciting (I know I’ve worked in a couple). But the truth is that most start-ups become successful when they’re bought by a big mature business or when they grow into a mature business themselves. The dream of being a Silicon Valley Billionaire sells papers, magazines and films but let’s get real here – many start-ups fail before they hit the big time.

On our training courses we see product managers from companies of all shapes and sizes, but all align with our focus on technology-based products.

So, yes we get a lot of delegates from software companies, some from star companies and some from start-ups looking to set-up product management. And their feedback is always great. But we also get people from a huge variety of other industries … from Finance to Automotive, Life Sciences to Manufacturing, Telecoms to Electronics. We have learned that 90% of what we cover applies to them all.


Ian Lunn

Director, Product Focus