Product Management Outcomes — The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

John Mansour
4 min readJun 4, 2024

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It’s refreshing to see so many discussions and articles themed around product management outcomes.

After all, it’s the reason we product managers do what we do, right?

But not all outcomes are created equal. Here’s a look at the good, the bad and the ugly when it comes to product management outcomes.

THE GOOD

When it comes to getting your product management and product development teams focused, nothing beats well-defined outcomes that are clear, concise and measurable.

They’re the one thing that brings everyone back to planet earth when the execution veers off course, and stakeholders, especially executives, love outcomes as they bring clarity to their roles too.

THE BAD

The downside though in almost all of the articles and discussions is the outcomes discussed are those we want for our own products or outcomes that are important to our organization.

There’s no doubt those outcomes are important, really, really important.

But as product managers, we’re making things way more difficult for ourselves by starting with our own business objectives and outcomes.

Here’s the #1 reason why.

In the simplest terms, there are just too many “right answers” for ways to accomplish our own goals!

Test my theory and go ask 10 different people for the best way to improve user adoption. You’ll get at least 15 answers, if not more.

Here’s the #2 reason why.

By default, customer value becomes secondary when our own goals are the starting point for product priorities.

I’m not saying it’s wrong to start with your own goals. I’m just saying it makes everything a lot more difficult.

In my 20+ years as a trainer and consultant, here’s the result I’ve seen too many times when we create product plans and priorities that start with our own business objectives.

It becomes too easy to convince ourselves that customers get value from things that are important to us, when in most cases, they flat out don’t.

THE UGLY

This is the worst part if you’re a product manager! Nothing is more damaging to our credibility, both internally and externally, when we deliver things customers don’t value.

Consider the ripple effect on our design & development teams, product marketing, sales, customer success teams and especially customers. The proverbial daggers start flying from every direction, and product managers are the primary target. Not fun!

THE EASY FIX

Make “customer business outcomes” your starting point. It simplifies everything.

Here’s the #1 reason why.

When you look across your target markets, there’s only one right answer (80/20 rule) when it comes to WHAT those customer organizations want to accomplish and WHY those outcomes are critical to their business success.

Here’s the #2 reason why.

Measurable customer value is a universal language everyone understands, and It improves our credibility as product managers when we speak it fluently and help all other customer-facing disciplines speak it too.

Assuming we start with measurable customer outcomes and we’ve validated the value of those outcomes, the manner in which we design products/features and take them to market (the HOW part) is the bigger variable in making sure we get the desired outcomes for our products and our own organization.

For example, if we want to improve user adoption, we have to first figure out which user job tasks to focus on, why they’re valuable to the customer organization and how they make non/existing users better at their job in ways that can be measured. Then we have to determine how we’re going to reel those additional users into using our products, the go-to-market side of the equation.

In many organizations, I see product managers set user adoption goals and then simply throw a bunch of popular enhancements into their products. They rarely reach their desired adoption goals even though existing users appreciate the enhancements.

Had they focused on measurable value via customer outcomes for users they don’t have, the results would have been far more favorable.

The Bottom Line on Product Management Outcomes

Outcomes that are important to the success of your products and your organization will always top of mind across the board, as they should be. But making those outcomes the starting point for your product plans and priorities isn’t the easiest way to achieve them.

Even though it seems counterintuitive to some, starting with quantifiable customer outcomes is the easiest way to reach your own business goals. The rule of thumb is, if it doesn’t have measurable value to the customer, nothing else matters. Visualize the biggest STOP sign you’ve ever seen.

Once you’ve determined something has measurable value to the customer, it should be much easier to figure out if there’s enough value there to support the outcomes you need for your products and your company.

If you want to learn the easiest way to consistently deliver measurable customer value and take it to market to meet your own business outcomes, check out our Product Management Framework and hands-on training programs that are personalized to your products, your markets and your business model.

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John Mansour

Eliminate inconsistencies in how customer value is defined with personalized hands-on training courses for B2B/B2B2C product management & product marketing.