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PRODUCT.|PHILOSOPHY.|LIFE.

Strong Views Weakly Held

Product managers and designers have different personality types. But among all the people I've worked with over the years, I have noticed that the ideal personality type for the role is that of "strong views weakly held".

Firstly, it is essential to have a strong view about what kind of product to ship and how it ought to be designed. Else, one can easily be bullied into shipping what is easy and cheap to build, and what doesn't necessarily dig into the meat of the problem that ought to be solved for the user. When one doesn't hold strong views, the natural tendency is to look around for what is already available in the market and copy the same with possibly a tiny increment here and there.

A product built by people with weak views might still succeed, but that will either be because it has a captive market, or an excellent sales team. The product will never be something that users seek out and relish interacting with.

But strong views isn't everything. It matters how we hold them.

I have seen strong views being strongly held and all this does is discourage debate. What this results in is a team that executes on exactly what is told and doesn't have the freedom, and hence, over time, the interest, to question whether they are building the right product for the users. If the strong views that are held aren't validated by data, then the team just goes on to build something that has little relevance to its users. And thus, fails.

But strong views weakly held is a valuable trait. When the decision maker holds strong views but will change them when presented with data and evidence that suggests otherwise, then everyone in the team has incentive to seek out and bring that evidence to the table.

This is the only way great products are built. 

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