– How to Be a Jackass Product Manager in Nine Easy Steps

1. Don’t visit customers. If customers want to talk to you, ask that instead they put their list of enhancement requests in an email or a spreadsheet. Take said list and cut/paste it into Jira. Don’t bother to find out WHY the customer wants any of this stuff.  If the execs pressure you to do talk to more customers to validate your plans, send  out a 300 question survey. If no customers respond, it must means they all agree with everything you plan.

2. Don’t learn how to use your product, ‘cuz you’re too consumed with being a blathering “visionary” (albeit a visionary who never defines and articulates a true product vision) to be concerned with such details. Plus you’re far too elegant a gentleman/lady to eat your own dog food. Disgusting!

3. Become an email router.  Insist that the field write you emails (no phone calls!) whenever they have technical  product questions.  Forward those emails directly to selected developers.  When they answer, forward the email directly to the original asker.

But BE CAREFUL. For this to work correctly, you MUST insist that the sales folk NEVER EVER contact developers directly, and vice versa.  YOU must always be the intermediary, even though you’re just an email router.  Take care NOT to add any value to the exchange, such as translating detailed techno-blah-blah speak into Sales-friendly English.

ADVANCED MOVE: Remove the email headers and other indentifying info prior to forwarding emails, so that the sales reps can’t wise up and contact developers directly. This move makes it look like YOU were the one who actually answered the questions! Congrats!  Also, make sure you don’t send all your questions to the same developer, or soon he/she will be on to your little scheme.

4. Overengineer a small part of your job and do it to the hilt, ignoring every thing else. For example, spend at LEAST 150 hours developing product training for Sales.  And then schedule at least NINE different 2-hour time slots to give the training, so that each sales rep can pick and choose his/her favorite time slot from the nine. This will make training completely occupy your time for almost 2 months, giving you an excuse for never getting around to your product strategy.  And — best of all — you get to bitch n’ moan about being SO overworked!

5. Decide what features are in and out of a release based on one overly simplistic measure, like the number of customers requesting X in the bug tracking system. Don’t worry about whether the request is actually an implementation-level detail and a kludge at that. Don’t worry about whether your product is actually solving the underlying problems that the customer has.  Don’t worry about whether the feature has broad applicability to your target markets.  Because that would require you actually know what your target markets are, and you’re too busy being a Jackass Product Manager to find that out, right?

6. Whenever you are forced to get customer feedback, call that one geeky customer who thinks _everything_ your company shits out is a gold nugget, because his resume is so wrapped around your company’s technology that he would have serious career problems if you changed course.  He’s so TOTALLY representative of your customer base, as well as your future target markets, right?  And thus he is a wicked awesome source of unvarnished feedback, validation, and advice.

7. Get into a swinging dick contest with a technology analyst.  Get out the rulers and start measuring. Cheat, if you must, to make sure yours appears bigger. Talk down to the analyst and disagree with everything he/she says.  Because those Gardeners and Forest Rangers just LOVE it when you downplay their expertise.  They are such an ego-free bunch that they’ll actually appreciate your product EVEN MORE if you call them idiots to their faces.

8. Go around saying stuff like “explain this technical concept to me as if I were a 5-year old,”  ‘cuz that’s the way to get the respect of Development.  They don’t mind _at all_ if the person laying out the future direction for their _child_ (aka their product)  seems to have the mental capacity of Paris Hilton.

9. Be a complete jerk to your fellow product managers.  Monopolize team meetings with your concerns.  Don’t let anyone else speak.  Pontificate at length – have fun with it! Undermine the broader product line vision in order to elevate your product at the expense of the others. Blame as much stuff as you can on the other PMs. Undermine their credibility in front of Development, and later in front of Marketing and Sales.  They’ll respect you for it. Really. But watch out if one of them becomes your boss one day.

  • TimThePM

    Almost sounds like TheCrankyPM has one of these Jackass PMs at Dysfunctosoft. Am I right?

    • http://crankypm.com The Cranky Product Manager

      Actually, the Cranky Product Manager has never seen all these *ahem* “qualities” in any one person.

      But she has indeed known MANY, MANY product managers who possess one or two of these traits.

      Worry not, the Cranky Product Manager has none of these characteristics. She is practically perfect in every way.

      • Deedy

        If you ever saw all these qualities in one person, no doubt that individual was in product marketing (or ultimately landed there). What you’ve described is MY job. :)

  • David Locke

    Hey, the Sales Droids will buy coders lunch. Stock option compensated coders need someone to buy them lunch.

  • http://twitter.com/rrestout/status/28911814855 Romuald Restout

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  • http://twitter.com/jdcoffman/status/28912449185 Jonathan Coffman

    How to Be a Jackass Product Manager in Nine Easy Steps

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  • Tom Leung

    Nice! I’ll add a few more:

    10. Spin every release as if it were a huge success — even if it was a brick. This would be the opposite of “keeping it real.”

    11. Take credit for other people’s work or ideas.

    12. Use the word “paradigm” or “disruptive” more than once a year.

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  • http://twitter.com/amatarranz/status/28975129881 Antonio Matarranz

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  • Henrik Kenani

    PRICELESS!!!

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