Adversarial Thinking: How to Break Down Biases in Product Management

Product teams struggle with bias to a far greater level than most realize. Bias can cause unjustified confidence and can lead to poor allocations of resources or acting on incorrect conclusions. Of course, it’s impossible to exist without some level of assumption; there just isn’t enough time to analyze all the data in the world! But too much bias can be toxic.

So How Do You Combat Bias?

Chris Butler, Director of AI & Product Strategy at Philosophie, proposes Adversarial Thinking: The practice of viewing a problem from a competitor’s or adversary’s point of view.

quote by red team journal

A Product Manager’s adversary’s are their competitors, time constraints, their own selves, and the dissatisfaction of their customers.

The Adversarial Product Manager’s Toolbox:

  • Tight feedback loops: Good feedback is personalized, contextual, timely and actionable.
  • Contrarian thinking: Don’t be afraid to play the role of “devil’s advocate” and argue against established thinking and the views of the majority.
  • Randomness: Genius comes out of chaos and unpredictability, through yourself into uncertainty to spark new ideas

Key Takeaways:

  • Make a decision in the way your competitor would make it.
  • Make what you consider a “bad” decision.
  • Make what your company would consider “not a good” decision.
  • Make a random decision.
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