People say Steve Jobs was a product genius. Some insist on claiming he was our iPhone “product manager” too. Let’s take a look at this. How did he work?
Here’s one little thing. He insisted on concrete and specific demos that showed what the product we were trying to make would be like. Not documents, plans, slides, or hand-wavy abstract talk. Demos.
These demos focused everyone. They helped to eliminate vague thinking. Everyone knew we had to produce work that would be up to his level, a demo ready for his review.
The demos had to be perfect too, to the extent of what they included. If a detail was shown, it had to be an exact proposal for what we might ship.
It was doom to show some trivial point, a color or an animation, and then say we haven’t picked the right shade or timings yet. “Why are you wasting my time?” …or worse …usually worse.
Wasting time is a great way of thinking about this too, since his demo review method saved time. Nobody produced useless content that wasn’t the product. We went directly at the problems we were trying to solve and the products we were trying to make. He insisted on it.
It was just macho posturing either. He knew what he wanted, he had great taste, and he gave exacting feedback at the end of every demo. Clear instructions about what he wanted to see next time.
Compare this method to any product manager you’ve ever worked with. Ask yourself if they help to save time, are clear in their communication, focus effort on the essentials, and catalyze the work that produces great results. /end