What is my theme song for today?

That’s Juliet Paey’s prompt for today, and it took me a while to come up with a good answer.

To be quite honest, I have classical music going on Spotify, while I sit here and write.

But that doesn’t really make a theme song.

I’d like it to be something like “We Are The Champions” or one of the big rock anthems. But that’s not really me.

To be honest, the song that probably most exemplifies my life, although it’s not one of my favorite songs, is “It Don’t Mean A Thing (If It Don’t Got That Swing)”. I want my life to always have some pizzazz, and the things I do, and the way I think, and the way I go about things.

In music, “swing” means the opposite of “square,” which in turn means, “going strictly to the beat.” And although I love classical music – and find it better for writing to – you can see how it’s the epitome of square. The beats are just so, and the music goes square to them. Dum-dum-dum-dum. Whereas in jazz or any music where the rhythm is swung, it’s going to be more like Dummm-de-dumm-de-dumm-de-dummm. And that’s the stuff I really like.

It’s got a beat, you can dance it

When the kids on the old America’s Bandstand show used to say, “… and it’s got a beat you can dance to,” that’s what they meant. Funk has it, jazz has it, the blues have it, some rhythm and blues has it, some rock has it, although most rock is straightahead. (It’s good for other things than dancing, if you ask me.)

Swing and product management

I can easily tie this into product management, by the way. I want customers to love my stuff, not just want and/or need to use it. And you make customers love your with pizzazz, with life, with “swing.”

And most enterprise software do not swing, in either a literal or metaphorical sense of the word. There are exceptions – Slack swung, especially when it first came out. It zigged where other apps zagged. It put a little spin on things that no one had seen before, and it was incredibly engaging. Instagram swung, with its filters and its stickers.

And I strive for that with my products, through lots of little ways.

One of the best?

Making sure your product ties back into what your users really want to get done. They don’t actually care about your product, do they? They care about something else, and your product is going to help them get that other thing.

To the degree you can make your product less about itself and more about the thing someone is trying to accomplish, the better.

One way to do this is to not talk about “how to use my product,” but “how to use my product to accomplish X,” where X is a thing that your user wants to achieve.


About the author

Your host and author, Nils Davis, is a long-time product manager, consultant, trainer, and coach. He is the author of The Secret Product Manager Handbook, many blog posts, a series of video trainings on product management, and the occasional grilled pizza.

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