Product Managers: Fight for Curiosity

Intentional curiosity

As I’ve talked with product managers on this topic, here’s the visual that’s emerged:

Curiosity in the product lifecycle

Does this resonate with you? Zooming into how curiosity often plays out in the product lifecycle:

Now what? Some tips.

Five ingredients to moving towards intentional curiosity: Empathy, Trust, Access, Speed, Passion.

João Reis: @_rabiskus, original post here
Photo by Towfiqu barbhuiya on Unsplash
  • Trust is an unlock and an outcome of a culture of curiosity. It’s a loop that builds and builds. When you have a team that feels safe, their minds aren’t consumed with calculating the risks of asking a question.
  • Look at your product portfolio and do a thought exercise. What new learning might cause you to stop something mid-flight? What would it take to over-power the inertia?
  • Teams need access. Is the data accessible, usable? How much friction is there is getting time with a customer?
  • Struggling to care enough to be curious? Find something related that you do care about, and connect it back. (This is a tool that’s often recommended to neurodiverse folks who operate more with an interest-based nervous system rather than an importance-based nervous system.)
  • For those of you who use your own product each day, what a double edged sword! So easy to become numb to the papercuts and gloss over the opportunities. Don’t let a week go by without talking to a customer for their perspective.
  • Curiosity is contagious. Make a note of the questions you’re asking individually and publicly.
  • At FullStory, we use a simple exercise called One Number. Each PM brings one piece of data to our team meeting. It helps ensure we’re constantly in the data, and always generates rich dialogue: Each insight sparks a flurry of questions, and curiosity takes over!
  • Curiosity requires trust and humility. An empowered org where teams can ask questions and prioritize the answers based on clear frameworks and goals. How would your team rate trust?
  • When asking questions, pair curiosity with context. “I’m curious: Where can I find more data on X? Context: Was talking with a customer yesterday and…” Disarming. Brings others along.
  • As you interview, know that they’re paying attention to the questions you’re asking, too. Curiosity is a key characteristic of product managers.

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Evan Michner

Evan Michner

Head of Product Mgt at FullStory • Write about Product culture, remote work, and career