Practical Product Ep 5: Why intellectuals are wrong about AI, the Bundling Phase & What it means for PMs, and more.

What are the consequences of AI making our lives easier and better? What jobs will be lost and what happens when they are gone? And how should product managers think about the new, bundling phase we’ve entered?

In this week’s episode of the Practical Product podcast, you’ll hear my thoughts, and some quotes from others related to a few key topics that have been top of mind lately:

  1. What it means to now be in a bundling phase for tech and how PMs should adjust their strategies.
  2. A problematic mindset I see and hear in too many PMs.
  3. The truth about AI and the future of work. Will we really see jobs disappear?

Practical Rants: Why intellectuals are wrong about AI, what PMs must do as we enter the Bundling Phase, and a key mindset PMs must avoid

This episode is a collection of my thoughts on some trending topics I am seeing in the world of tech and product management relevant to PMs:

1. We are in a Bundling Phase: How can we as Product Managers bundle our offerings for consumers who are concerned about economic instability? We need to establish our products as absolute must have’s in the eyes of our customers and recognize the new market dynamics to survive and thrive .

2. Let’s stop the Self-Deprecation in Product Managers: Don’t be the “this is fine” dog meme, be part of the solution when you see negative trends within the culture or product at your organization.

3. The Truth about AI & the Future of Work: I break down a clip from Yuval Noah Harai and his horrendous take on the “Useless Class” of folks he predicts will grow as technology continues to advance. We must shut push back on this rhetoric and build tools for an abundant AI future.

You can listen on your favorite platform or in the player below:

Highlights of the episode include discussing:

  • (1:27) – Bundling within companies amidst economic uncertainty
  • (6:34) – What to do as a PM when you see customer churn due to bundling
  • (10:23) – Understand your secret sauce
  • (12:37) – Self-Deprecation in Product Managers
  • (17:29) – Yuval Noah Harari on the “Useless Class” & The future of work with AI
  • (29:22) – Product Managers can be part of the solution
  • (32:04) – Final Thoughts & Recap

Key Show Notes & Further Reading:

1) Now entering the Bundling Phase…

I saw a tweet from my old boss and mentor, Hiten Shah, that really hit home:

That got me thinking…why now?

Now you have the combined argument of:

  1. We had too many tools to manage. IT hated this. It was a security and info management nightmare.
  2. Budget cuts. You’d rather cut a tool than an employee. And there’s an easy case to make to decision makers that, “hey, this big system does all these things. Let’s cancel all the other tools and consolidate on this.”

And for PMs, this means you need to consider a few key tactics to navigate this reality:

  • Look for breadth over depth in feature building. In a consolidation phase especially, you’ll be competing against a lengthy feature checklist, where one system that does everything gets the purchase, and there’s no second place. 
  • Take advantage of integrations and APIs. If you integrate with tools they use, it helps keep you sticky. And if you have an API and others build on top of what you’re doing that’s also a great, viable strategy to expand your functionality faster than your own team can build. 
  • Build for the right ecosystems. Microsoft and Salesforce are two of the biggest heavy hitters. They’re exactly what people are going to consolidate on because it’s so easy to. Be prepared for push back though…both are miserable to build on. 
  • Tighten your relationship with Sales and CS. You need to know how you’re winning and losing deals. Find out how account management is doing trying to retain key accounts and what they’re saying they’re thinking about. 
  • Understand your secret sauce and champions. What’s unique about your company? What do you do better than most? What critical thing do you deliver that will have someone with influence at a customer banging the table to keep you? If you don’t have it you better get it. If you do, make sure that feature stays great. Don’t let the goose that lays the golden eggs get hurt. 

2) The problem of self-deprecation for product managers.

While this meme can be funny, it shouldn’t be your main identity as a product manager:

It sends a bad message to everyone around you if you’re constantly self deprecating about your job:

  1. It makes you sound like a victim, and potentially setting you up to welcome more abuse
  2. It creates a self-fulfilling prophecy where you look for confirmation of this negative way of living as a product manager. Build for and focus on the positive direction.
  3. It sends a bad external message to other PMs that “this is the job.”

And maybe in some cases “this is the job” but ask yourself if that’s what you really want? 

3) Why AI is NOT going to cause massive unemployment.

Harari is a monster disguised as an intellectual.

The ignorance of Harari is staggering. He oversimplifies things and has such an out of touch view of reality.

These changes always happen. Every time there’s talk of this concern.

There used to be tons of jobs for horses before cars: Poop shovelers, veterinarians, horse feed, etc. 

And cars of course created jobs: car dealers, mechanics, all the many parts needing manufactured, car washes, windshield repair, gas stations and the entire oil industry, etc. 

There were floors and floors of accountants and bookkeepers, and then the spreadsheet came along…and with the rise of computers, I think we can all see the many jobs they created, and how information and services were democratized. 

There are plenty of jobs to fill

In today’s world, it’s crazy for someone to argue there are no jobs. There are tons of opportunity all around us:

  • We have organizations like Bloomtech happily training people, many coming from “low skill” jobs.
  • Most tech jobs are self taught, too! Can you major in sales or product management?
  • There are tons of labor jobs that no robot will take for some time, which as of now is estimated to be over 4 million jobs, and once again there are training jobs like Mike Rowe Works.

This means that even if some jobs are displaced by AI, there’s no reason to believe there won’t be work for these people.

AI makes jobs more efficient, not eliminated.

Not one reply to this great question about copywriting AI mentions *anyone* losing their jobs:

And similarly, Github’s AI is making engineers faster, not taking their jobs:

When you free up a worker’s time, they can do more and different things.

Product Managers can be part of the solution.

If you’re working on a product that uses AI, think about how you can help make a better future for workers:

  1. Build your tools to make their jobs faster and better, not replace them. You’ll get less adoption resistance and they’ll become your loyal fans.
  2. Make your interfaces more accessible and easy to use. This will allow newcomers to use your product, and speed up adoption.

Harari is a monster and a terrible human being.

Harari is an example of an intellectual monster. He is giving speeches like the video embedded above to world leaders at places like the World Economic Forum. He has a large platform and the ears of people that make his ideas very dangerous.

Did you know that part of Nazi eugenics called some people, “useless eaters”? To use phrases like the “Useless Class”, is the first step to genocide and should be condemned fully, especially in intellectual conversations as we all develop technology people will be using every day.

Do not fall for those false pity ideas from false intellectuals. There will always be jobs. And every new technology creates new jobs and opportunities as much as it may eliminate a few old ones.

We as product managers have the opportunity to be a part of the solution and create the future that helps everyone, and does not consider anyone “useless.

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