My good friend and longtime Lean Startup Circle organizer and volunteer Spike Morelli (who has great office hours) gave me a wonderful book and card for my birthday. In addition to a really nice note, he asked a question on the card related to value creation:

In a world with no technology or data, what would better and worse look like? Insert answer here:

It’s a simple question, once I decided that Spike isn’t actually geeky enough to make me translate the binary into a number into order to interpret it. I read it as:

In a world with no technology, what would “better” and “worse” look like?

Of course, I realized after a bit that he could have also meant “data” instead of “technology” but that doesn’t change my answer at all.

Same Ol’ Same Ol’

My answer is simple. The same. Better and worse would look identical with no technology. Here is better:

family and friends

That’s me and the love of my life (who also drew this) having a wonderful time being together.

This is worse:

Minimum Viable Product - MVP - Marshmellow toaster, value creation

Technology is not a Goal

Technology is not an end in and of itself. It's a means to an end. Click To Tweet

Stephen Colbert mocks the VessylIf we, as product managers or even just as human beings, take technology as its own end we wind up with things like the Vessyl, whose ridiculousness is best pointed out by Stephen Colbert.

Most of the great technology products that we use day to day don’t create brand new behaviors or experiences, they just enhance them. They make them simpler.

We wrote SMSes before Twitter and postcards before that.

We checked out our classmates on a real paper facebook before Facebook.

We read newspapers and played 99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall to entertain ourselves on trains before Clash of Clans.

The goal of technology is to enhance, not to simply exist and be used. Click To Tweet

If the goal of our product is to make people push a button over and over, it’s just cruft.

Life without Data

Qualitative vs. QuantitativeWithout data, what would better and worse look like (value creation)? Again…the same.

Life is quality, not quantity. However much we might measure time on page and bounce rate, the data is a proxy for the quality of enjoyment. The data by itself is nothing.

Quantitative data does not trump qualitative and the false competition is silly.

We need to love, fight, scream, and yelp. We need to experience.

Metrics are meant to help us measure happiness, not replace joy itself. Click To Tweet

Just because we’ve tricked someone into click buy now doesn’t mean our product is awesome. There have always been con artists and digital con artists are no better.

We have to build, not to build, but to build for something. To build for someone.

Otherwise we’re not creating value. We’re just stealing attention.

Lessons Learned

Technology is not an end in and of itself. Click To Tweet A product manager's job is to enhance the User eXperience. Click To Tweet Quantitative metrics are a proxy for quality. Click To Tweet

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