Skate to Where the Puck Is Going

Wayne Gretzky's father famously said to his son

Go to where the puck is going, not where it has been

This is an advice that applies very well to the world of product development, too. If you try to enter a crowded space it will require a tremendous amount of luck and resources, to make a space for yourself and push established players away. At Zemanta we have experienced such situation several times over the past few years and it's not a comfortable position to be in. But predicting where the puck will be is equally difficult, so as a product manager you're constantly moving between a rock and a hard place, with neither choice providing any guarantees for success.

An individual has a tremendous advantage over a group of people. He or she can just decide and go in whatever direction he or she pleases. But a group of people, even if they agree on the direction to be taken, will never be that consistent in pace and direction. And the larger and the more diverse the group, the more likely it is that some will move faster than others, and some will go more to the left, and some more to the right. One of the essential responsibilities of a product manager is to keep direction while adapting to the signals from the environment. But the more the product manager is jumping around, the more difficult is for others to follow. And if the product manager is only following in the steps of others, the group might lead him or her to a dead end.