Product problems and business goals

The most common derailer I’ve observed in product management interviews is when candidates start discussing a product problem by dissecting business goals. This derails the conversation 80% of the time.

Business goals matter – but only after we have conviction that there is a real user problem to be solved. Starting with business goals distracts from the process of problem finding.

This is just as relevant on the job.

Good specs start with problem statements. And, good problem statements start with user needs and validation that the need is real – typically either user frustration or creative hacks/workarounds – before they get to business value projections/guesses.

We’re better served when we think of the “P” in PM as “problem” vs. “product.”