At the Edge of a Tangled Forest

And what product managers can do to clear the path for the customer.

Benito Vergara
6 min readApr 30, 2021
Photo by Ksenia Chernaya from Pexels

Sometime ago, a new customer of our division (I’ll call her Sue) pinged me and asked if I had time for a quick chat. I said, “Sure,” and she sent me a calendar invitation with the rather damning subject line “Confused.”

Sue and I didn’t work together directly, but I knew her in a different capacity, and I figured this was going to be a friendly chat (it was). But I felt a mixture of both eagerness to help and, well, a smidgen of defensiveness. Even as a tiny cog in a big wheel, I still represented IT, and our division within IT in particular, so I was sensitive to how our division was viewed by customers. But perhaps I could help answer a question or two.

So I got on a call with her, and it turned out that she wasn’t confused about a couple of things.

She was confused about a lot of things.

“What’s a product owner?”

“Why do I have to attend these 15-minute daily meetings?”

“I’m supposed to fill out this security assessment and quite frankly I don’t understand half the words.”

Sue had more eye-opening questions for me, and she confessed towards the end of the call that she felt really lost throughout…

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Benito Vergara

Senior product manager, fiction writer, former anthropologist. I study culture, tell stories, and herd cats. More: https://about.me/benito.vergara.