Top 12 Product Management Insights From 2020

Top 12 Product Management Insights From 2020

It’s that time of year when we look back fondly at the top product management insights from the last 12 months, and pair them up with a puzzling parade of highs and lows from pop culture.

Because it’s 2020, we’ll be wrestling with murder hornets, tumbleweed tornadoes, and asparagus psychics. So grab a quarantini and let the joyscrolling commence!

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I’ll do my best to avoid the c-word, p-word, and e-word. If you want substantive commentary on those events of 2020, I’d refer you to the usual sources of truth and objectivity: The Onion and The Babylon Bee.

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January

High: The year starts with comedian Ricky Gervais roasting Hollywood at the Golden Globes.

Low: We get a glimpse inside the mind of Dr. Phil’s musician son when his bizarrely-decorated mansion goes up for sale.

Product: Sam Somashekar brings good news to Waterfall Product Managers: It’s still possible to be agile!

Disturbing: Skittles raises eyebrows and twists sensitive stomachs with its “Yogurt Boy” ad.

RIP: Highlander star Stan Hirsch.

February

High: Social media lights up when a thrift shop in Belgium releases pictures from an old photo album of a mystery woman hugging Patrick Stewart, Angelina Jolie, Robert Downey Jr., and many more A-list celebrities.

Low: TV audiences debate: Was JLo and Shakira’s Super Bowl halftime performance empowering to women? Or objectifying? Or was it… both?

Product: Rohini Pandhi, Product Manager at Square, shares how to create consistency within the chaos of roadmapping.

Tasty new term: Lasagne of value.

Decidedly less tasty new term: Urinary auto-brewery syndrome.

March

High: John Krasinski highlights Some Good News from around the world just when we needed it most.

Low: Gal Gadot and friends warble out a cover of Imagine to cheer people up amid global lockdowns… and it doesn’t go over so well.

Product: When Go To Market efforts are aligned, you can achieve up to 19% faster revenue growth and 15% higher profitability.

Random YouTube video: Kenny Lauderdale debuts his Chargeman Ken retrospective “The Best Bad Anime” and I can’t believe I’ve never heard of it because this madness sounds right up my alley.

April

High: In her royal address, Queen Elizabeth provides the internet with perfect Photoshop bait.

Low: Ellen’s backstage drama continues to make headlines.

Product: Meghan Nesta talks through three ways to stay engaged with people inside and outside the product organization (three minute video).

May

High: In the finale of Star Wars: Clone Wars, Ahsoka lets go of the past to forge her future.

Low: John Krasinski explains to furious fans why he sold Some Good News to CBS.

Product: Steve Johnson outlines the VIDEO framework for feature prioritization.

Also: Tumbleweed tornado.

June

High: A man finishes his 75-day silent retreat and poses one simple question to Twitter: “Did I miss anything?”

Low: Ex-eBay employees charged with mailing spiders, cockroaches and pig mask to couple who criticized the ecommerce company.

Product: Nacho Bassino explains how to generate meaningful insights using several ideation frameworks.

RIP: Legendary DC writer Denny O’Neil and veteran Marvel inker Joltin’ Joe Sinnot.

July

High: Wisconsin man keeps promise made in 1992 and splits $22 million lottery winnings with friend.

Low: “Zombie” cicadas sexually transmit mind-controlling fungus in West Virginia.

Product: Jason Fried, founder of Basecamp, talks about strategy and managing risk in light of managing two products.

Also: Murder hornets, because 2020.

RIP: TV legend Regis Philbin, whose autographed photo I have had on my desk for, literally, decades because I admire his sense of humor, ability to tell a story, and the respectful way he interacted with others on camera.

August

High: The gang at Rifftrax debuts Lycan Colony, the story of a brain surgeon who shows up to work drunk, accidentally kills a patient, and is forced to move to a town inhabited by werewolves.

Low: An austrian tourist damages 200-year-old Italian sculpture while posing for selfie, proving it’s not just Americans doing this kind of thing.

Product: To redress focus on product lifecycle beyond development, Adrienne Tan reimagines McCarthy’s 4 Ps of Marketing to create the 7 Ps of Product.

RIP: Black Panther star Chadwick Boseman.

September

High: Rob Sheridan reveals that Home Depot’s website has a “visualize in your home” feature for the 12-foot skeleton Halloween decoration.

Low: Turns out black licorice doesn’t just taste gross; black licorice can actually kill you.

Product: Rich Mironov starts advising his clients to delete the letters “MVP” from roadmaps and product charters.

RIP: Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

October

High: Batman: Three Jokers redefines Batman and Joker’s rivalry.

Low: Hairy, venomous caterpillars start to menace Virginia because, again, 2020.

Product: John Pagonis shares his experience of creating an evidence-based backlog.

You shouldn’t pet those venomous caterpillars but this guy is fine: Puppy with green fur born in Italy.

RIP: Sean Connery and Eddie Van Halen.

November

High: Two highly-effective vaccines debut in record-time.

Low: Culled mink rise from the dead to Denmark’s horror.

Product: Dr. Jim Anderson discusses product managers rethinking their breakfast strategies in light of current events.

Scorchin’: Pringles wins the award for most awkward commercial of the year.

RIP: Alex Trebek.

December

High: John Krasinski and Dwanta Claus spread holiday cheer for the end of 2020.

Low: Asparagus psychic predicts trouble for Harry and Meghan in 2021. #asparamancer

Product: Andre Theus explains how to run a collaborative roadmapping exercise with your team.

What Were Your Favorite Stories From 2020?

Some Good News with John Krasinski is a standout for me because it was such a rollercoaster ride — from its debut bringing people some hope, to its sale making some people so angry, to its return in December to close out the year with $5 million for Toys for Tots.

Also: Kenny Lauderdale’s Chargeman Ken retrospective convinced me to add that show to my 2021 playlist.

What were your favorite stories of 2020?

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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.
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