Expectations are a moving target

Every leading product organization releases an upgrade every year if not more often. We refresh advertisements every season. Channel partners are reviewed, added or, removed at regular intervals and even logos get redesigned. Then you turn the lens inwards into the organization and gasp! How did we get this static?

The performance management system was likely last redesigned in 2010; 2015, if you are lucky. The reward mechanism last installed ten years ago stays exactly as it was, even though the expectations, deliverables and people have all changed. Policies have not been revisited since the 90s and the values likely never re-evaluated since they were created at the time of establishment.  

In a world where yesterday’s ‘Wow’ quickly pivots into today’s ‘ordinary’, why is it that every function apart from our own chases the moving expectations of the target group? As Jeff Bezos wrote in the 2017 Letter to Amazon Shareholders: ‍“One thing I love about customers is that they are divinely discontent. Their expectations are never static — they go up… People have a voracious appetite for a better way, and yesterday’s ‘wow’ quickly becomes today’s ‘ordinary.’ I see that cycle of improvement happening at a faster rate than ever before… You cannot rest on your laurels in this world. Customers won’t have it.”

Yes, some processes are indeed reviewed every so often and attempts are made to channel feedback into the right destinations. Yet when I rewind a decade, I am yet to find concrete evidence of our profession attempting to build in a rigour into our ‘product releases’ the way every other function does. In fact, I doubt if we even think of ourselves as product managers and what we build as ‘products’.

And until that happens, expectations will continue to be a moving target, and one that we always miss.


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