Is it part of the job description as a product manager to develop unsuccessful products?

Products can fail, projects can slowly diffuse in invisibility, ideas cannot be implemented, this is everyday life for every product or project manager, the normal madness in the life of an entrepreneur. And if that’s the case, then one credo of entrepreneurial thinking is that we have to invest in something else. It is well known that only one in ten ideas can establish itself on the market. The rest is doomed to failure. And then, of course, it makes sense to get rid of the unreturnable product as quickly as possible and turn to other, potentially profitable things.

But let’s be honest: Is this thinking really the right way? Is it right to pull the cord at an early stage? Do you live up to the “failed” idea? Is it really not marketable? And what about the people, the idea providers, the developers, the driving forces? Is that really part of the profile of a product developer, engineer, project manager to put away such defeats?

Example job search

Perhaps the following scenario looks familiar to you: You have graduated and are now looking for a job. You intend to sign a contract within three months.  Motivated you go into the application phase. You prepare your application documents, search for suitable vacancies and apply. You conduct interviews and sometimes move on to the next round, sometimes not. Three months pass and a contract is not in sight. You give yourself another month, then another six weeks. Nevertheless, you still find it difficult to find a job. What to do? Give up and apply for Hartz IV? Are you emigrating? Do you ask your parents for asylum and stay afloat with temporary jobs? The following is more likely: They question their application documents critically. You check whether your profile matches the desired job offers. You analyse your behaviour during the interviews and you probably even get support from friends, family or counsellors. With the knowledge you gain, you will revise your documents and your approaches. The probability that you can now successfully place yourself in the labour market is increasing.

The question of WHY

The job search example shows: You don’t give up so quickly in your personal environment. You question, try to understand and adapt.  Even as a child, the why is probably one of the most important words on the path to learning.  With this word children explore the world, understand connections, develop further.

But as soon as one moves in the business environment, this word often no longer exists. Numbers are analysed, processes optimised, but what lies behind them – motives, obstacles, misunderstandings – is not explained and eliminated. Instead, the calculations are purely economic, decisions are made at short notice, mistakes or opportunities for improvement are swept under the carpet, investments are written off.

Worth a try!

The next time you get into the situation of burying a project for business reasons, use this one little question: Why?

Give it a try. Be a “child” and ask yourself: Why? And after a first explanation why again? And then why again? And a fourth and fifth time.

And then take these insights and apply them.  You will see, a few why later you will see adjusting screws and approaches to bring a supposedly unsuccessful request with changed intentions to success after all.

Try it yourself!