Strawberries and Worms: A Parable for Product Managers

When I was a kid, I used to love Aesop’s fables – short stories with a moral. I even learned some valuable lessons from them, lessons that have helped me as I’ve grown older.

For this holiday season, here’s my little parable for those of us in product management and product marketing (it’s not a fable, it’s a parable!)

Drum roll please…

Strawberries and Worms: A Parable

Jonny was the smartest kid in his seventh grade class. As the summer break drew near, he knew exactly what he wanted to do that summer – learn to fish.

His family lived just minutes from the nearest lake. The first day of his summer break, Jonny got up early. He went to the market and bought the freshest strawberries, his most favorite food.

He sliced the strawberries just the right size, to use as fish bait. On his way to the lake, Jonny saw an old man. The scruffy old man had a stinky bucket – it was half full with ugly worms. No wonder the bucket smelled, Jonny smirked to himself.

Jonny spent the next 3 hours fishing. To his surprise, he didn’t catch a single fish. On his way back home, he saw the same old man whose bucket was now overflowing with freshly caught fish.

Moral of the story:

It’s not about what we want; it’s about what they want.

Even though Jonny liked strawberries best, fish liked smelly worms.

For Product Management and Product Marketing Professionals

When creating/enhancing products – we should focus on what customers want, not what we want:

  • We may want an AJAX widget that looks sexy. Customers want an easier way to add a record.
  • We may want cool Flash graphs. Customers want a simple report they can share with their boss.

If we focus on truly understanding what our customers want and then provide it to them better than anyone else can – and do this over a long time, we’ll likely end up with a very successful product. Our competitors may even accuse us of having a smelly bucket!

Happy holidays!

Editor’s Note:
Interested in an affordable, enterprise-quality software to help you manage requirements? Check out FREE 30-Day trial of Accompa or Sign Up for a Demo.

Michael Shrivathsan

I'm your author, Michael Shrivathsan, an expert in product management with successful experience at several innovative companies in Silicon Valley, USA over the past two decades. I'm also a USPTO patent recipient. For my day job, I'm the VP of Product Management at Accompa, we make the popular requirements management software used by Product Management, Business Analysis, and related teams.

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