Amusing Tales of Product Managers

From a hilarious David Pogue column (read the whole thing for more funny anecdotes)

We reviewers aren’t supposed to divulge our official opinions until the article appears in print. But years ago, Benjy, a P.M., asked me what I thought of his product, a database, while the review was still in progress. I said cautiously, “Well, I need to keep working with it.”

But Benjy continued to prod. “Any ideas for our next version?”

“Well,” I shrugged, “a list view would be nice.”

Forty-eight hours later, a FedEx man appeared at the door, bearing a new copy of the program: version 1.1. It was identical to the version I’d been testing — except now it had a list view. Some programmer had had a very busy weekend.

Benjy called. He thanked me for the list-view idea and asked if there was anything else I’d like to see in the program. I hedged; he prodded.

“O.K., well,” I managed, “it’d be nice if you could mark and print subsets of your cards.”

You guessed it: within two days, version 1.1.1 arrived, complete with mark-and-print features.

This loony cycle went around a few more times, the little company writing the software to accommodate the review. I knew this wasn’t quite the way the reviewer-vendor relationship was supposed to work — but I really thought the software was getting better. At last the review deadline came, and Benjy stopped adding new features. That program was probably the only version ever sold.