You can’t have everything: three keys to successful products

It seems many executives, salespeople, and marketing teams have little understanding of how product management contributes to the success of today’s products.

Tom Smykowski: Well… well look. I already told you: I deal with the damn customers so the engineers don't have to. I have people skills; I am good at dealing with people. Can't you understand that? What the hell is wrong with you people? (Office Space, 1999)

One VP believes “waiter” is the role of product management. In his view, the customer (or salesperson) asks for a feature, the product manager takes the order to development, and then the product manager delivers the feature to the customer when it’s “cooked.”


Here’s what’s wrong with that metaphor: It assumes that the desires of one customer represent a market full of customers. And for that matter, it assumes that customers actually know what they need, which is often not the case.


The challenge of managing products, whether you have a product manager or not, is balancing market demand with organizational resources. Finding the vital few rather than the compelling many.


You can't have everything

An understaffed team cannot produce more than they can produce, no matter how "agile" you think they are.


Every organization has a req