Book Excerpt: Curating

The following is a chapter from my newly published book Product Leadership.

“Art is making something out of nothing and selling it.”
– Frank Zappa

At the top of the long list of terms describing a product manager is a deceivingly simple word: Curator. Like curators of museum exhibitions, product managers collect outstanding features into an assemblage that exceeds the sum of its parts. Identifying that combination is in itself a work of art. Finding the right product requires generous helpings of creativity, persistence attention to detail. A good curator can turn an otherwise bland group of objects into a sellout. Outstanding curation is the epitome of creative product management.

Before starting to put together your show, identify a problem worth solving. What will it focus on? What will make it unique? How many other museums feature similar ones? To zero in on the theme, sort through all the data you can put your hands on. You will encounter conflicting pointers and sometimes have to dig deep to find an elusive piece of information. You will have to learn new concepts and understand multiple disciplines. The more you study your target market and audience, the more clarity you’ll gain leading to a better product definition.

With the patience of a Pointillist, put everything together and create a cohesive offering. Not every item can fit in; moreover, the relationship among the ones that make it is crucial. When choosing the features that make up your final product, insist on the essential. Each piece of art must have a clear role in the overall makeup of your show. Needless to say, you don’t want to choose only low hanging fruit. Favor quality over quantity and ruthlessly chop out features that don’t meet your standards. Garbage in garbage out.

When your masterpiece is ready to be revealed, don’t hesitate and open it up for the world to see.