The Best vs. The Rest or The Perfect vs. The Good?
Two concepts coexist in the center of the Product Management discipline that, at first glance, may seem contradictory when they are complementary by nature. One has to do with excellence; the other one with Perfection.
In the two books making up Marty Cagan’s essential bibliography, first in INSPIRED: How to Create Tech Products Customers Love and then in EMPOWERED: Ordinary People, Extraordinary Products, the author addresses the most relevant topics of the Product Management discipline in each of its chapters. The idea of excellence is present in all of them.
This is particularly the case when Marty Cagan displays the differences between Product Teams and Feature Teams and clarifies that they are not two versions of the same thing but two utterly different things. Something similar happens with the post “The Best vs. The Rest.”
Excellence is at the core of those who make products, in what and in how. The difference is evident when we see an extraordinary product and one of the bunch; when we see indicators of an outstanding product team and one of the average, when we participate in a presentation that leaves us speechless and one that will be one more of the many that we attend.
The same thing happens in other disciplines such as sports, music, or science. First, some stand out and then comes the rest. For instance, let us think about Messi, the Beatles, or Isaac Newton.
On the other hand, in another post published this year by Deb Liu, former VP of Facebook, “The Perfect and the Good,” the author covers another critical aspect of those who make products: Avoiding that the search for Perfection stops us from progressing.
Working in an agile environment, validating hypotheses in short periods that allow us to cut down uncertainty, move on to execution, and not stop at the analysis that sometimes comes with a high risk of paralysis are all examples of the business as usual of a product manager and the mindset of thinking as Deb Liu proposes.
Excellence and Perfection.
They are not mutually exclusive, and at the same time, it is pretty challenging to imagine one without the other. Excellence is a bit about aspiring to achieve Perfection. And, likely, we should not let the aspirational stop us on this path. Try to be productive people who make those around us better and try it every day in everything you do.
Collin Powell, former Secretary of State, summed up both concepts very well when he put forward the following: “There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure.”