I must confess, I have a bad habit. I assume people see the world as I do. When I look at a chart, I assume that others are seeing the chart as I do. I understand what the chart is showing me, I assume others understand the chart as I do. When I can decipher and decode all the information shown to me, I assume others can too. This would have happened to you too, when you shared a spreadsheet with a colleague, but they could make no sense of it.

Now, let me confess another bad habit, but with products instead of charts. When I look at a product, I assume that others are seeing the product as I do. I understand what the product is asking off me, I assume others understand the product as I do. When I can decipher and decode all the information shown to me, I assume others can too.

From my perspective, the product is usable, the onboarding flow is not needed yet, the ways the product can help the user is known, each section of the product explains itself. But as soon as a user sees the product, they are lost. They have no idea what the product does or can do, and how they can make most of it. Most users are not savvy enough to remember the workflows and sections.

Changing Perspective

Before, when I shared something and others did not understand it, I blamed them, thinking they are not smart enough, repeating a line in my head "why can't you see it, it is right there". All this, ironically, while writing blogs on empathy.

But now I have changed my perspective. If someone does not understand what I have written, I have failed as a writer, If someone does not understand a report I shared, I failed as an analyst, if someone struggles with my product, I failed as a product manager. Whenever I fail, I ask myself what could I have done better? could I have presented the data better? Did I provide enough context? Did I guide the user properly?

The Product Manager Role, one of the Jobs: The Guide

I am not trying to define the entire craft of product management, I have tried that before, but later realised it is a fruitless exercise as the definition comes without context.

Rather here is one of the Jobs of the product Manager: that of a Guide. Treat your product as a journey your users are on. You are responsible for the journey. If any experience during the journey is bad, it is your fault as a guide.