WWANPD (What would a normal person do?)

I was walking with my friend Michael last week in the Oakland hills, and he came out with the most hilarious question: What would a normal person do?

Product managers often gripe:

  • My boss says I should be more strategic, yet I am assigned only tactical projects
  • We say we want to be market driven, but I’m not allowed to call a customer without the sales person on the line
  • We ask “why did we lose this account”, but no product managers are allowed to interview the buyer
  • They say I’m essential to the company, but I never get a raise, and I never get promoted

Ask yourself: In this situation, what would a normal person do?

Or meme it: WWANPD?

– Alan


7 responses to “WWANPD (What would a normal person do?)

  1. Depends on the definition of “normal”. Normal for me may not be normal for you.

    I’m guessing he made up that question from the popular “What would Jesus do?” (WWJD) query.

    Where Jesus’ responses/actions were based on a fixed moral/ethical/cultural (read religious) framework and remained constant, normal for everyone else will be based on their definition normal behavior and will vary.

    In response to the gripes above, how about just honouring the decisions your employer/boss and leave it at that? I admit I’ll be the first to “comment” about strange decisions management may make, but in the end, it will be gripes (and not constructive comments/solutions) that will be remembered.

    Just a thought.

  2. A normal person would never get the product manager job.

    Why are you assigned anything? If you were proactive you would find your own assignment, and tell the CEO you’re too busy for his next pet project.

    If you are answering to sales reps, you are not a product manager. Change your job title to product owner.

    Do be aware that sales reps kill companies.

  3. I resemble the remarks in this blog.

    David, it is not a matter of waiting to be assigned tasks that are tactical vs. being proactive and engaging in strategic activities.

    There are responsibilities expected of a Product Manager (in my organization anyways and I suspect others) to make sure that the product being developed meets the market need, ensuring the organization is ready to support the product etc. that can be very tactical. Depending on the strength and maturity of the Development organization these tasks can take an inordinate amount of time from your day. Unless someone helps get out of the mud sometimes, you can often be stuck there.

    “Answering” to Sales is also part of the job Being involved (as appropriate) to help close deals is an important aspect of my job – be it in helping to create tools or being in front of the customer communicating roadmaps, vision etc.

  4. Vivek Talyan

    Instead of a ‘normal’ person, it is better to focus on active and passive people.

    An active person knows what is expected of him/her and finds ways of doing it. The active Product Manager is going to call the buyer and find out what went wrong or call a customer without worrying about the salesperson. He does not need permission to do the right thing.

    A passive person will wait to be told what to do and do just that. He is going to be a lot less productive and a lot more dissatisfied.


  5. I can’t think of a PM who doesn’t complain about assigned tasks and lack of authority.

  6. Depends on your definition of normal. My normal is often considered weird. But it seems normal to me.

    So when I address ‘sales’ my normal is to first help buyers recognize all of the decision issues they must address in order to buy-in to any change potential. I don’t discuss needs or solution until they can manage this.

    For me, the sales model is weird.

    One person’s ceiling is another person’s floor.

  7. I often use the term “normal” to refer to people who use my product who are not like me – even though they *are* product managers (it’s a PM application). That is, they just want to get their job done and not obsess over their tools.

    In general, WWNPD is a key question that you should always be trying to find the answer to. As a PM you have to try to put yourself in the normal peoples’ shoes – where normal is your users (whom you are NOT, of course), *and* go out and talk to them, and survey them, and observe them. Because then you can put those insights into your product, which makes it better for normal people.

    How does this tie into the original question? A) normal people (normed to the whole population) are not going to be PMs – ain’t gonna happen, B) if you *do* ask the question as I suggest above and get the results into your products, you’re going to be more successful and some of those other issues – micro management, tactics vs strategy, etc. – will start to go away.