Agents of the Epiphany

There are at least two forces in product management: Agents of Chaos and Agents of the Epiphany. Agents of Chaos state emphatically what needs to be built for customers, without ever speaking to a customer. Agents of the Epiphany don’t know exactly what needs to be built but routinely watch and speak with customers.

In the end, products run by Agents of Chaos end up not being used and no one can understand why. The features where built. A profitable price point was set. The product was marketed. It was delivered on time and on budget. But it’s just a junk pile.

Products run by Agents of the Epiphany sometimes run late, are sometimes over budget, but they always come up with answers that are unpopular within the company. However, customers and clients do understand the answers because the product teams usually asked the right questions of the right people. They also observed the setting and how the product was being used. They saw when people asked “WTF?” and worked to turn it into “I love this!”. And more and more people start using it as a result.

The only two things that really matter are whether or not people are using your stuff and whether or not you can get them to pay money for it. Make sure you’re listening to the right people who can get you there.