Where are the product people?

Reading time  is 4 minute(s)

In the video below Steve Jobs talks about "product people". As a software engineer I couldn't agree more. In the two and half minutes video, Steve Jobs talks about the need of having individuals within a team who are not just technically proficient but also have a deep understanding towards the end user and their goal. These "product people" understand that software isn't just some lines of code, but rather it's a tool that should integrate into peoples daily lives, solving problems they are having in a nice and easy way.

Take Spotify, for example; Instead of sticking to simplicity for users who just want to enjoy music, they continuously add unnecessary features that clutter their interface. Similarly, WhatsApp introduces features like stickers but fumbles with ensuring basic functionality such as reliably delivering messages to users with their new native desktop app. I could give you more examples, but you can read lots of them on the Wikipedia page for enshittification.

I am noticing this in the industry as a whole. In many tech companies today, it seems like marketers and salespeople are gaining more and more decision power on the direction of the product. While they lack the the technical expertise, they are making decisions on what features to add, how to design the product, and how to market it. This is a problem because these people are more focused on selling the product than on making it great. They are not the "product people" who actually create the product and because of that the end user experience is often compromised.

The once great product becomes more about selling than about making something great for the user. The focus is on making the product look good, rather than making it functionally great. This will incrementelly lead to a decrease in the quality of the product and the user experience. Slowly killing the once great product (or company).

While marketing and sales are important, they should work together with product experts, not overshadow them. It's crucial for companies to remember this balance so they can keep making amazing products that customers will love.

So sales and marketing folks, if someone working on the product tells you something isn't needed, or that adding a feature will take time or even harm the product, please listen. Don't push them with tight deadlines that could make them cut corners, so the company can sell more. They understand the product inside out and know what it takes to make it truly excellent.

They are the "product people".