Sometimes, Hate Helps

I love my iPhone. But I hate rearranging its applications by dragging them into place, one by one, with my finger. It’s slow, tedious, and difficult to do across multiple screen instances.

Today, Apple announced a fix that will let me do that kind of work in iTunes instead. But instead of talking about the importance of usability in a product, which should be pretty obvious, let’s talk about the importance of hate, which might be less obvious but an important competitive advantage.

World’s Finest #194 & #195 present a good case for how veering into the darkness can bring you back to the light.

In World’s Finest #194, an undercover Batman suffers a knock to the head that convinces him he’s actually a mobster. In WF #195, Superman maneuvers Batman into a situation with Robin and Jimmy Olsen that so fundamentally challenges Batman’s moral code that it restores his memories.

Product managers need to do the same thing.

Not masquerade as mobsters, suffer amnesia, or threaten teens into digging their own graves. But stop trying to get customers and users to like you and your product, and instead figure out what it is about your products that people hate.

Sometimes, you can just ask them. Other times, it’s worth sitting with customer service to get a sense of what the users of your product are talking about.

Taken on a case-by-case basis, it might seem like nothing’s there. Just isolated incidents. Crazy people. Cranks. But if you take a step back, patterns may start to form.

Angry emails and hate can mask real issues. New problems to solve that could make a mediocre product good, and a good product great.

(Now, to start rearranging those apps on my iPhone via iTunes.)

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Christopher Cummings

Blogs about product management. Loves Jesus, his family, comic books, video games, and giant robots. Occasionally crawls through mud and leaps over fire.

9 thoughts on “Sometimes, Hate Helps

  1. “Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering…”

    Agreed Christopher. Too often software vendors dismiss angry customers as “squeaky wheels” not completely understanding that for every squeaky wheel, there are probably 10 customers who hate you quietly for the same reason. That doesn’t mean that you have to pander to the squeaky wheel, but it does give you good avenues to research aht your top priorities should be moving forward.

  2. To take the Yoda quote to it’s (logical?) conclusion…

    …suffering leads to pain,
    pain leads to numbness,
    numbness leads to introspection,
    introspection leads to insight
    insight leads to action
    action leads to benefit
    and benefit leads to progress.

    Thus fear leads to progress. 🙂

  3. LOL! I was just kidding about that whole bump-you-off-the-top-row thing – honest!
    Please come and do a guest post at Rocket Watcher. I just recently subscribed here and I love this blog!
    P.S. Where did you get that photo of me? Has my mother been on flickr again?

    This comment was originally posted on spatially relevant

  4. well it worked – we are both on the same row now. I don’t mind being second tier – it’s actually an upgrade for me anyhow. I’m glad you have SR in your reader and if it took knocking me out of the top slot, then I’m good with it.

    This comment was originally posted on spatially relevant

  5. Thanks for the mention, you know it is just gratifying that people are starting to consider Product Management a subject worthy of consideration as opposed to irritation!

    This comment was originally posted on spatially relevant

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