Empathy is Product Management

Hubert Palan is the founder and CEO of Productboard.

 

Hubert Palan began his career as a product manager, so it’s no surprise the company he founded, Productboard, provides a product-management platform for product managers. 

How products make people feel is the “only long-term sustainable advantage,” Hubert says, and he believes, strongly, that empathy is at the core of everything he does at Productboard. “Like anything in life, if you understand how your actions and behavior make others feel, the better you understand it, the better partner, and the better friend, and the better human being you are,” he says. “I feel like it's the same thing with the products.”

Getting to know customers at that level can be challenging, but Hubert has a two-prong approach to instilling the process in his company:

“There’s two steps. One is having a good understanding of what are the needs, and the needs both the functional and the emotional, or the utilitarian and the emotional. Basically, the first thing is that you need to go out and you need to observe the people. There’s no shortcut. … The second part is: how many people are out there and who are they, that have those needs? In order to be able to define where the priorities should be and what is it that you should build, to reach pain point, to focus on, and so on? It's not just enough to understand the urgency or the importance or the impact or the value of that specific pain point for a specific customer and individual.”

Learn more about Hubert’s views on infusing empathy into product management — including how and where research comes into the picture — on this episode of This Is Product Management.

Download the transcript

Here are the highlights: 

  • How delight and utility create sustainable advantage
  • The effect of empathy on research
  • Hubert’s mental model for understanding customers
  • What drives long-term value in a product?

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