Product Management and the Sociological Imagination – Daniel Merriman

For far too long product management has leaned on psychological insights as a panacea for our product woes. Psychology teaches us how to manipulate human traits to encourage particular behaviours, whether that’s through leveraging consumer psychology to add a few extra dollars to the checkout basket or unleashing tiny hits of dopamine at just the right time to keep users engaged for 5 more minutes.

When we apply such psychological principles to our products, we believe we are building products that users love. All too often, though, that love is really just a form of control. And even when our products are relatively benign or well-intentioned, this focus on the individual means we often find ourselves building products that don’t achieve social benefits that live up to their promise.

To build socially responsible products, we need to think bigger. At this year’s Agile on the Beach, I will make the case for an explicitly sociological approach to product management that puts the social good above all else, and how we can start putting this approach into practice.

Agile on the Beach is a leading annual conference in Falmouth, Cornwall UK. Since 2011 Agile on the Beach has been a two day agile conference, set on the Cornish coast with a beach party in between. The conference explores agile software, products, teams, business and practices. With over 400 attending, the conference hosts 50 seminars and workshops to provide the ultimate agile learning experience, along with ample opportunities for networking at its three evening events.

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