To: Product People, The Powers That Be
CC: Anyone who cares
From: Matt Quinn (Head of Product, Dual Citizen, Lived in 8 major cities so far)
Subject: RE: Does the world need more product managers?
I thought our conversation around going to work for the state vs a big company quite compelling and I wanted to send you some follow up thoughts.
Often people think working for government is a noble endeavour only to find everyone else there is a bureaucratic hack that will do everything to sabotage productive work.
In SCRUM Jeff Sutherland talks about how when studied the difference in productivity between the highest performing and lowest performing teams is 2000x. You read that right. Can you guess where state governments sit on that productivity scale?
Someone asked me - "does the world need more product managers?"
On the surface PMs don't actually do anything, and get paid pretty well for it at BigCo.
My answer is yes. The world needs many many more PMs.
In fact I believe we need a Peace Corps for PMs. PMs from large organizations rotate into government bodies and just tinker.
They discover the problems, communicate the issues and the display outcomes publicly.
On any given timeline, costs of a good should go down. With governments they only seem to go up! This hurts the citizenry that they represent.
Over the decades we've seen ZERO innovation in dealing with homelessness, waste management, schooling, job placement, policing and prisoner rehabilitation to name a few.
If you read the innovators dilemma it would be pretty clear why the state can't just hire PMs and see the results, they need to be external and have the autonomy to see and communicate real change.
How many terrible government schemes could be an airtable or a webflow site?
How many government schemes could/should have public KPIs?
How many government schemes should be experiments that get killed off quickly?
And how much budget could be productively reallocated to new, pressing concerns or to double down on hugely productive schemes?