Thursday, January 15th, 2009

Bad product managers are like hairstylists

in: Anticipate, Create

The first thing someone asks me when I go to get my hair cut is, “How do you like it?”

This is the wrong question to ask. It presumes that I (not the expert on hair) have a preference that’s relevant.

(Sure, we’re creatures of habit, so we may well have a preference, and hey, we’re paying for it so we get to choose. But bear with me.)

What a stylist should be asking is questions like, “What do you do for a living?” and “how do your co-workers dress?” Perhaps they’d ask, “Do you have time to towel and blowdry it in the morning?” Or maybe they should wonder, “Do you play sports like wrestling in which hair length is a factor? Are you on a team that needs helmets?”

A good stylist would try to discern a pattern of needs (which the customer knows a great deal about) and then applying their domain expertise (cutting hair) to choose what’s best. In many companies, the people in charge of product direction are like stylists. Which causes lousy product decisions.

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Thursday, May 15th, 2008

Why isn’t there a Stanford in Montreal?

in: Startups

Last Night’s Founders & Funders dinner was a great networking event. Montreal’s Patrick Lauzon and Austin Hill brought together many of Montreal’s early-stage entrepreneurs, as well as investors from firms like Inovia and Montrealstartup.

Austin kicked things off with a question about Montreal’s innovation, and the lack of university-fostered entrepreneurship similar to what one sees in Boston or San Francisco. Put another way: Why isn’t there a Stanford in Montreal?

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