Wisdom Can Be Shattered

Product Marketers crave data.  Data on the industry, the competition, customers, and just about everything in between.  Data helps build business cases, derive features, justify decisions, and launch new products all together.  The problem is that data can become an Achilles heel.

Jeff Stibel describes it perfectly in his article “Why Wise Leaders Don’t Know Too Much“,

Wisdom can be shattered by too much information.

Jeff goes on to describes one of the biggest dangers of being a data addict:

Decisions are destroyed by over-analysis. The brain is not intelligent because of the sheer volume of data it can ingest, but for the way it can quickly discern patterns — and then guess the rest. The more information you pile on, the less likely you are to make educated guesses.

I would never recommend not gathering data (you never know when it may come in handy) but at some point you have to make  a call.  When is that point?

I think experienced product managers can do it based on less concrete information and more general trends.  However, some organizations require thorough analysis on all scenarios before any decision can be made.  So, the answer is that it really depends on the situation (which I know is not really a great answer).

The best advice I have is that until you have enough experience to develop your own “gut feeling”, seek out others you can use as sounding boards and to play devil’s advocate.  Hopefully, this will help you decide when you have enough data to make a sound case and when you need more before making a final decision.