Inspiration: There is a computer disease...

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There is a computer disease that anybody who works with computers knows about. It's a very serious disease and it interferes completely with the work. The trouble with computers is that you play with them.—Richard Feynman

Do you play with your computer? Mess around with all the new features in a new release? Maybe go through all your other programs systematically and see if anything’s broken? I’ve been playing with the new Apple OS this week. It’s been a real hit to my productivity.

But here’s the real question: Do you play around with your own product?

One challenge for product managers is they aren’t power users of their own product. Sure, they can do a demo (as long as nothing goes wrong) and they can talk about roadmaps. But have you ever implemented yours?

One way to get to know your product deeply is to spend time at a customer site. See how they use it. See what features they use the most—and which they don’t seem to know about. You’ll likely see customers doing things you never imagined.

I’m technical support for everyone who has met a member of my family. Sure, I’ve been messing with computers for years (decades!) but that’s not really why I’m so knowledgeable. It’s because I play with ‘em. I spend a thousand hours getting to know the programs. I read the online forums. I read the documentation.

If you want to build credibility with developers and engineers, you should know (and love) the product like they do.