INSIGHT MANAGERS ARE FROM MARS AND PRODUCT MANAGERS ARE FROM VENUS

By: Jane Franklin

You both advocate for the customer. You’re both concerned with understanding consumers so that you can make products and services they’ll love. So why does it feel sometimes like insight managers are from Mars and product managers from Venus?

This Valentine’s Day Decidedly plays Cupid. Follow our matchmaking tips for insight and product managers and you could find yourself in a beautiful relationship.

But first, we did some matchmaking ourselves. See what happened when we sent Adam, 30, a fictional senior insight manager on a blind date with Eve, 30, a fictional senior product manager. (With thanks to Guardian Blind Dates)

Eve on Adam

What were you hoping for?

To spend some time with someone on the same page as me

First impressions?

He came across as friendly and confident. Interested in me and interesting to get to know

What did you talk about?

The difference between data and insight. Levels of understanding. How context shapes meaning

Any awkward moments?

He said I needed to look at my user research again to see if it actually told me the truth about my consumers. He said a ton of data on what a user does has value but until you understand the reasons why they behave in that way, or the context they do it in or how they feel about a whole category, your product innovation can really miss the mark. That was a bit strong for a first date!

Good table manners?

Impeccable

Best thing about Adam?

He asks really deep questions that challenge your assumptions about the product you’re developing – but in a good way!

Would you introduce him to your friends?

Yes, because I think he’s fascinated by people and I think my friends would certainly give him some food for thought!

Describe Adam in three words

Bright, focused, friendly

What do you think he made of you?

I think he thinks I find the user experience design bit of product management the most exciting bit of my job. That I’m not as excited by the upfront research bit and that I can take it at face value or ask pointed questions to confirm my hunches in product design. And that skipping in-depth exploratory work with the consumer risks us missing the observations or micro-frustrations that can spur real innovation. That I skip over the insight bit so that I can get to the fun bit of experience design as fast as possible… He may have a point

Did you go on somewhere?

I invited him to a developer meetup in a pub in Shoreditch but he had other plans

And… did you kiss?

I couldn’t possibly say

If you could change one thing about the evening, what would it be?

I didn’t mean to imply that user insight is just data collection – so I hope he doesn’t think badly of me

Marks out of 10?

9

Would you meet again?

Yes, I need to know how to get closer to my consumers!

Adam on Eve

What were you hoping for?

I love meeting new people – I just wanted to have a fun evening getting to know someone new

First impressions?

Great sense of style

What did you talk about?

How much she loves the product she’s developing. How she thinks she intuitively knows her user so she’s sure it’s going to be a hit. How she has to juggle lots of teams’ demands and is under pressure to deliver revenue.

Any awkward moments?

She told me that insight takes too long, costs too much and doesn’t get her the answers she needs! Bit of an awkward silence after that comment!

Good table manners?

Perfect

Best thing about Eve?

You can really see how she gets people get on board with her ideas – she’s charismatic and enthusiastic, so you’d want to get involved.

Would you introduce her to your friends?

Yes. I think she’d be great at designing a night out and actually making it happen. But she might need a bit of a steer on what they’d enjoy doing.

Describe Eve in three words

Fascinating. Creative. And fun.

What do you think she made of you?

I think she was surprised to consider that there might be more to insight than she’s seen before… and that there’s power in finding out more about the ‘whys’ as well as the ‘whats’ of behaviour

Did you go on somewhere?

She asked me to go on to a developer meetup with her. I didn’t know if I could hold my own with such a technical group though

And… did you kiss?

What a question to ask!

If you could change one thing about the evening, what would it be?

I should have gone with her to the meetup. There was definitely more for me to learn there

Marks out of 10?

9

Would you meet again?

Yes! I think I can help her get much closer to understanding consumer truths so she can develop products that really meet her consumers’ needs.

So what can we learn from this?

If you’re in product or in insight this Valentine’s and you’re looking to bridge the divide, here’s four tips for making a Decidedly good match:

Walk a mile in their shoes

Adam wouldn’t go to the developer meet up with Eve but he missed a trick there in terms of understanding her world. Perhaps you could ask to shadow a colleague or get involved in a project to see how your counterparts work?

Cut through the jargon

Every role has an associated lingo that serves as a shortcut for those in the know, but puts off people from different backgrounds in the process. If your partner glazes over at the mention of max diff or an MVP, think about using more simple language to get your message across

Be open minded

We all go into a date (and into the office) with some preconceived ideas. But for the best hope of success you need to be aware of your own bias. Insight people might think one way and expect product people to think differently. Open communication and open minds will help you find the common ground. If you allow your thinking to be challenged you might be surprised at just how much can be achieved.

Remember, it’s a sprint, not a marathon

Don’t expect to win immediately. Try to see each meeting as a sprint – a focused, time-bound unit of effort with the objective of moving the project along. And don’t be afraid to fail. Mistakes when you’re learning to work together are about building knowledge. Fail fast, learn from it and success will be yours.