I recently discovered an interested fact. Studies show that we perceive ourselves to be 20% more attractive than we actually are.
This was one of a handful of fascinating studies described by Robert Trivers during an RSA talk about his latest book Deceit and Self-Deception: Fooling Yourself the Better to Fool Others
Trivers has spent the last few years studying the peculiar phenomena of self-deception. The basic premise of his book (which I plan to read asap) is the hypothesis that deceit and self-deception are linked. From an evolutionary perspective, it is logical that we can better convince others of our superior status, strength, attractiveness etc. if we believe them to be true. I won’t attempt to outline the arguments, you would be better off reading the book or listening to the audio of the RSA event.
Let’s assume that the hypothesis, “We deceive ourselves to better deceive others” is true. What does that mean for Product Managers?
Most Product Managers are the biggest champion of their product. I don’t know of a Product Manager who would work on a product they didn’t believe in. That belief needs to be infectious for your product to grow. Colleagues, customers, friends, strangers should all be left with a great impression of your product after speaking to you.
But what if, we are fooling ourselves? What if we view our products as 20% more appealing than our customers do? All that confidence is great when pitching a product or when writing convincing copy, but does it help us build products that people want to use? Are we biologically predisposed to seek out vanity metrics relating our products? How do we deal with this potential misperception?
My gut reaction is to be even more driven to back up my vision with facts. To always strive for a good balance of quantitative and qualitative data about my product. Make sure I make a habit of getting out of the building.
From now on I will try to always challenge myself whenever I big up my product to myself, especially when it seems automatic.
I could of course be wrong. Maybe truly believing your own hype makes the difference between success and mediocrity?