When you start writing tests, or having discussions, and the requirements begin changing underneath you because of what you discover as a result, that’s complex. You can look back at what you end up with and understand that it’s much better, but you can’t come up with it to start with, nor can you define what “better” will look like and try to reach it. It emerges as you work.
The fundamental challenge with product management is that your first solution to a problem sucks. And it can suck a lot of different ways. It might not actually be a problem. Your solution might make the problem worse. Your solution might make that problem better, but cause another worse problem. Your solution might be boring. It might break. It might give the wrong answer. It might give the right answer, but too late. There are many different modes of failure.
In short, you start by thinking you know something, but the only way to tell if you really know it is to do a test. ([tweetthis]In #prodmgmt, you start by thinking you know something, but you have to test to be sure[/tweetthis]) The test will likely tell you that you don’t know anything. So then you respond by creating a new test.
Getting back to the Cynefin model the key words are Probe, Sense, Respond in the Complex region. And is it just me, or does this process also sound just like the Lean Startup Build, Measure, Learn cycle? Roughly speaking, you get these equivalences:
The key points:
Does this sound like the real experience of product management and product design to you? If not, let me know.
Next: What do you need from a tool to handle this situation?
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.
Please log in again. The login page will open in a new tab. After logging in you can close it and return to this page.