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The aim of marketing [or product management] is to know and understand the customer so well that the product or service fits him and sells itself. – Peter Drucker

When I read the article Discipline of Market Leaders this morning, and especially the quote highlighted half way down the article from Forrester Research about the age of the customer, the Peter Drucker quote immediately came to mind.

As Product Management leaders, VOC is one of the critical elements necessary to ensure that we remain market driven. There is no substitute for having first hand ‘customer experience’ examples when it comes to evangelizing needs/gaps, or justifying how the roadmap is prioritized.

The challenge, of course, is ensuring that we don’t get stuck in the mire that seems to come with the day-to-day needs that dominate our time. There never seems to be a shortage of the ‘needs’ demanded of us, and generally there just aren’t enough resources to go around to focus on them all (resources could equate to your time, your development capacity, your investment, etc).

That’s where the critical thinking element of the Product Management role comes into play.  Our job is to help bring balance to the needs-driven requests in relation to the strategic-driven focus that comes from the voice of the customer or the market.  That very environment is something I am experiencing now.

  • A roadmap view created late last year that guided investment decisions for 2015 …
  • A shrinking development capacity due to a variety of reasons (unexpected scenarios, conflicting priorities, scope bigger than originally anticipated) …
  • An accelerated time-frame for some large deliverables …
  • And several new priorities not previously on the list

At the end of the day, it is important to focus on the strategic-driven initiatives coming from the voice of the customer or market.  But it is also important to not lose sight of the needs-driven requests that impact overall customer satisfaction.  Delighting the customer is not only about delivering the bright, new shiny objects … but also ensuring a seamless, problem free customer experience.

And yes, it took everything in me to resist using a Star Wars related quote as part of this post :).