Product Management is often seen as a simple matter of inputs and outputs — we take information from the field, from the market, or from the users, and we create new products and features that meet their needs. If only it were that simple! Customers rarely know what they really want, although they can be very vocal about what they “need”; sales teams are often focused on the last deal they lost or the next deal they’re trying to close, and market intelligence can often be muddied by statements and claims by competitors and thought leaders which can be hard to distinguish marketing spin from product fact.
This is why it’s important for a successful, clever Product Manager to ensure that they have a view not only of the “product” that they’re specifically working on creating requirements, specs, and user stories for, but the “whole product” that the company is selling. If you silo yourself to only viewing the “product” as the particular piece of technology or a specific solution to a specific set of problems, you’ll inevitably be missing the bigger picture of how people use your product, why they use your product, and most importantly where your “product” fails to meet the needs of the users — and where those gaps are being filled in by others, either internal to your company or external groups making money where you should be focusing product.