PM Tip # 32: Nothing kills excitement like ambiguity

As a PM, one of your key jobs is building excitement for your feature.  This excitement is important among many different audiences. 

  • Among potential customers for your feature – Customers rarely buy or adopt what they are not excited about.  
  • Within your feature team – People do better when they are working on something they love. Help your team mates find that thing to love.
  • Up your management chain – Make sure your manager (and their manager) is equally excited about your feature.  This pays dividends later when you need them to help you remove roadblocks for you.
  • Throughout your partners – Likely there are a number of partners that are helping to deliver on the end-to-end value of the feature.  Getting them excitement ensures the core value will shine through.


I am sure all that is motherhood and apple pie… What is interesting is how to create that excitement. While there is a LOT to say on that topic, let me just touch on one element.   Vic Gundotra, one of the best product evangelists I have ever worked with once told me:

“Nothing kills excitement like ambiguity”


How true that is!  The sort of “but, but, and, and” kind of language we are trained to use as engineers does not help in building excitement.  Certainly there is a role for preciseness of language in product specifications (where to be frank we don’t have enough of it).   It is way harder to have a clear, correct, simple language than ambiguous speech.  But the work is worth it.  If you can work toward getting a clear 10 word description of the excitement thing about your project you are well on the way to achieving it!


I’d love to compile a list of excitement killing ambiguity or excitement generating clarity.  Please send them to me or comment here with your examples!


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