In a prior installment, I discussed how the concepts of Newton’s First Law of Motion might be understood and adapted to the world of Product Management. Since writing that piece, I thought it would be interesting to create similar pieces for the other two Laws that Newton originally expounded. While this sounds kind of easy — and it is for the First and Third laws — the Second Law was troubling me for a bit.
Then it hit me — in Product Management, we’re constantly working to push forward new ideas, and to ensure that the current plans fit with the state of the world, the market, and of our customers. And we’re always doing so from a place of influence rather than authority.
So, if you look at it from that perspective, nearly everything that we do is a matter of force, which under Newton’s Second Law is the product of mass and acceleration…
Data is the “Mass”
Under Newton’s second law, the larger something is, the more force it is able to exert when it encounters another object in space. In our Product Management world, the nearest corollary to the mass of an object is the data that we have available to us. The more data that we have, the “larger” the mass of our product, and the more force it has when it hits the market. Thus, to ensure that we always have the greatest amount of impact, we should seek to maximize the amount of data that we have, and the variety of sources for that data. We should always strive to obtain information from both within the four walls of our organization and outside those walls — to talk not only with our internal stakeholders, but to remain actively engaged and vigilant within our market as well.
The more data we have, the “larger” the mass of our product, and the more force it has when it hits the market.
Validation is the “Acceleration”
If data is the mass behind our product, validation is the acceleration — the force that moves our product forward, that takes the “mass” of data that we have and pushes it in a direction that we expect to be the right one. Validation requires iteration, and it requires constantly maintaining both the vision of the product and the pulse of the customer. It requires that we take what we’ve done and bounce it off of people who can give us quality feedback, and who can let us know when it’s time to push the product work into “full speed” or when we need to dial it back — or even reverse course.
Validation is the force that moves our products forward, and pushes it in the direction that we expect to be the right one.
Product is the “Force”
If you take our data and our validation and multiply them, the result is the product itself, which “hits” the market as a direct function of the amount of research that we’ve done and the amount of validation that we’ve built into the product. A product that starts with less research, but which has greater amounts of validation built in can hit just as hard — if not harder — than a product that has a large amount of research but very little validation. Our goal as Product Managers should be to identify the amount of “force” with which we want to hit the market with our product, and to pull on those levers of data and validation to ensure that we hit that mark.
Our goal should be to identify the amount of “force” with which we want to hit the market, and obtain the right balance of data and validation to hit that mark.