Gerald Weinberg in his book Quality Software Management, long before that Product Managers came around, explained an anecdote on the way a number of programmers he interviewed used to set the priorities for their work: one programmer declared: “This customer is an SOB. If I solve this problem, he’ll stop calling me”. Another programmer in the same organization affirmed: “I’m solving this problem because the customer is so nice to me. The ones who get abusive on the phone, got to the bottom of my stack”.
A third programmer explained: “I do the customer work last. The jobs I have to do for the development staff come first, partly because it’s more important work, but mostly because they’re right across the hall”.
We, as Product Owners or Product Managers, are supposed to make decisions based on value, but value is usually a rather subjective term. Aren’t we really being as unpredictable as those programmers?