This article was originally written for the folks over at UserVoice, as the first of my contributions to their Product Management blog…
To be subjective, or to be objective, that is the question, and the best product managers already know the correct answer is “both.”
As product managers, we constantly face situations where the unknowns outnumber the knowns that we can rely on. It’s our job to drive out that uncertainty and ensure that both people and efforts align toward a common objective. Sometimes these discussions flow smoothly, as the goalposts that we set can be quickly and easily agreed upon – things like providing a quality user experience, solving valuable problems for our customers and our market, and introducing competitively differentiating capabilities are hardly controversial.
What does become controversial, however, is how we go about those things as a team, what exactly we should do, and who we should be building those products for. And when those discussions come up, it’s inevitable that everyone at the table will have different ideas about what those things are – and, unfortunately, the vast majority of those ideas will not be based on hard data. Hence why we, as Product Managers, need to make it our business to ensure that we’re bringing data to the table as we represent and advocate for our customers and our market in those conversations; to do so, we must provide stakeholders with the right mix of qualitative insight and quantitative data that will not only help win them over to our preferred course of action, but also minimize the risk of later changes of course.
Great product managers use both qualitative and quantitative data to make the right decisions.