Many product managers take pride in dealing strictly with facts, treating opinions as some kind of taboo in their line of work.
This mindset, however, shows a misunderstanding of the very definitions of “fact” and “opinion,” as well as what product work is really about.
Facts are things you can’t argue with. They’re indisputable. Opinions, on the other hand, are how you interpret those facts.
“X is our most used feature.” = a fact.
“X is our most valued feature.” = an interpretation of this fact. One could argue that X gets used the most simply because it’s easier to find.
“80% of users who answered the survey requested this feature.” = a fact.
“Therefore, we should build it.” = an opinion. One could argue that it gets requested a lot simply because our competitor offers it, but it might not be the best solution to solve the intended problem.
If you look closely, 80% of the product management job is shaped by opinions:
- How you prioritize opportunities
- What evidence you choose to gather
- How you collect data
- How you interpret the results
- How you act on the results
All of these are guided by opinions, and it is not a bad thing.
Opinions aren’t just random feelings. They’re informed by past experiences, evidence, and logic. You are paid to do the job because the company needs someone who can piece all the facts into solid opinions to make good product decisions.
I think the fact that opinions are dismissed by so many product folks shows two things:
- High-quality opinions are hard to come by.
- Most people do not feel comfortable expressing their opinions.
…and that’s a cycle we have to break.
If your team can embrace an “opinion culture,” you’ll unlock more creative ideas, make smarter decisions, and execute faster compared to teams clinging to the the “facts, not opinions” mantra.