As a product manager, you will be wrong. Probably a lot. You will think you understand what a customer is trying to tell you, but you will misunderstand it. You will think you get how a new technical feature works under the covers, but you will miss a key point. You won’t be wrong all the time, but when you’re wrong, you need to get unwrong quickly. That’s why two of our most important skills are humility and empathy.
- Humility so that you can accept being wrong without being crushed
- Empathy so you can put aside your own feelings and beliefs to understand the feelings and beliefs – and needs – of others.
I talked to a customer today about a new feature they want, and I was tested in these areas. The mockups that I spent days working developing were not well received, although they precisely match the process as they described it to me. What they say they want sounds like unicorn tears, but that’s not *their* problem – it’s mine. I haven’t heard them right yet. I’m confident I will, but there may be several more uncomfortable demos before I’m not wrong anymore.
(Inspired by George A.’s “Number One Job Skill In 2020” post on LinkedIn – hint: the skill is empathy.)