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The Surprising Similarities Between Standup Comedy and Product Management
What are the parallels?
Standup comedy is an act of creation; and so is Product Management!
My interest in these two seemingly disparate crafts has made me to think about the similarities and draw parallels between them.
Standup comedians build their comedy material by first observing people's behavior and the world in which we reside. In Product Management too, you observe the problems and behaviors of your users and list down the insights.
Writing the first version of jokes is like writing a draft of a product spec. When you're writing this, the original insight or thought can be yours, but the iterations have to match the expectation of the audience/users.
Which means that you can't work on a standup set in complete isolation. Same with building a product.
Now, to see if the joke is really good, you have to test them out in an open mic. An open mic is a platform for comedians to try out their new material in front of an audience, charging a lower ticket fare. Similarly, with building a product, you have to test out your prototype or MVP with real users and get feedback.
You might wonder how do standup comedians measure the success of their set? What are the metrics of an open mic comedy set? Laughs per minute. This is tracked by recording the audio of the set and playing it back and seeing what works and what doesn’t.
For building an app, metrics of usage are tracked in Mixpanel and Google Analytics. Satisfaction is tracked with a survey of NPS, CSAT, or Emoji reactions.
For the comedy material to get better, you need time and multiple iterations. This can happen by changing words, inflection and pauses for the setup and punchlines and seeing what works better. This is nothing but A/B testing in an app. Your app is built through constant feedback and iterations by talking to the users.
You will know if your standup comedy is not working when people are not buying tickets to your show, not laughing at your punchlines, or not watching your YouTube videos. Likewise, if people are not paying for your product, or not using your product much – that’s a clear indication that something needs to change.
At the end of the day, as a standup comedian you have to make the audience laugh, and maybe think a bit. And as a product person, you have to solve the customer’s problem and delight the user.
The main takeaways from the parallels are to not to take yourself too seriously, firstly! And secondly is to look at any work with a craftsman’s mindset.
Observe the world, generate insights, create, get feedback, and iterate.
That's it for today. Let me know how you liked this newsletter. Comment on this and I would love to discuss with you!
Talk to you soon!
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