Need someone to lead product management at your software company? I create software for people that create software and I'm looking for my next opportunity. Check out my resume and get in touch.

Build the whole product

A team inside a large company spent a year building a new product from scratch. They obsessed about every detail. They refined the giant vision down to a reasonable v1. They slipped the release date a couple times, but then celebrated shipping a working product.

Nine months later, they only had one customer. What went wrong?

One of the biggest oversights was that they were so focused on building the code that. Made up the product, they forgot about the rest of what makes a product work. Marketing first got involved when the product was almost done. Support didn’t have any tools to help customers and didn’t really understand the product.

But most importantly, this new product from a sales-driven company didn’t think they needed sales. Sales didn’t see the product before it launched. They didn’t have input into price models. No one told them what was different about the new product.

So sales sabotaged the new product. Probably not on purpose. There might not have been meetings where sales teams said, “let’s make sure no one buys the new product.” But when a prospective customer asked a sales person how they could buy the new product, sales always steered them away. Steered them toward the products they understood. The ones where they knew how to price it, demo it, where they knew the customer would be well supported.

“Why won’t sales let people buy this,” the product team lamented. But why would they? Sales had a new product dropped in their lap with no input, no context, and no warning. It’s not surprising they just kept doing what they normally did.

The product team thought they had a green field product. Build whatever you want, however you want. But they failed to think about the context they were operating in. They failed to keep the rest of the company involved while they built the product.

The result was something that sales didn’t know what to do with, marketing couldn’t explain to customers, support couldn’t operate, and finance couldn’t bill for. The team had only built the code, not the whole product.

The product was a failure from the start, the team just didn’t realize it yet.

Recently Written

Great prodct managers own the outcomes (May 14)
Being a product manager means never having to say, "that's not my job."
Too Big To Fail (Apr 9)
When a company piles resources on a new product idea, it doesn't have room to fail. That keeps it from succeeding.
Go small (Apr 4)
The strengths of a large organization are the opposite of what makes innovation work. Starting something new requires that you start with a small team.
Start with a Belief (Apr 1)
You can't use data to build products unless you start with a hypothesis.
Mastery doesn’t come from perfect planning (Dec 21)
In a ceramics class, one group focused on a single perfect dish, while another made many with no quality focus. The result? A lesson in the value of practice over perfection.
The Dark Side of Input Metrics (Nov 27)
Using input metrics in the wrong way can cause unexpected behaviors, stifled creativity, and micromanagement.
Reframe How You Think About Users of your Internal Platform (Nov 13)
Changing from "Customers" to "Partners" will give you a better perspective on internal product development.
Measuring Feature success (Oct 17)
You're building features to solve problems. If you don't know what success looks like, how did you decide on that feature at all?


What I'm Reading


Adam Kalsey

+1 916 600 2497


Public Key

© 1999-2024 Adam Kalsey.