Overcoming Cognitive Biases in Product Management
Product managers are required to make decisions every day on every aspect of products being built and managed – what ideas will make this product a market success? what ideas or features should we prioritize? what are our key objectives and what results do we intend to achieve? And many more. All these important questions and decisions require diligent consideration and analysis of lots of inputs. However, humans have an evolutionary instinct to want to shortcut these (and other life decisions) because of cognitive biases; these shortcuts allow us to come up with judgments that are ‘good enough’ and, frequently, correct. There is, however, a potential (and significant) price to pay – in potential revenue, customer satisfaction, opportunity cost, to name a few – for the speed and efficiency that comes with this bias-based thinking in product management. This presentation is intended to educate the audience on how cognitive biases impact product managers’ decision-making, learn about common biases and how to spot them, and propose potential methods to counteract them. Example of biases highlighted may include the following 1) confirmation bias – the tendency to search for and interpret information to confirm one’s existing beliefs / hypotheses, 2) Dunning-Kruger effect – simply put, is the tendency to maintain a high level of confidence in low levels of competency, and 3) outcome bias – tendency to value a decision based solely on its outcome and not by the decision’s quality at the time of the decision.