As you’re probably aware the football World Cup is upon us.

We couldn’t resist the challenge of seeing if any of the standard football clichés can be applied to product management.

For example…

“It’s a game of two halves” – first you have to build the product and then you have to sell it

“They’ve got to move from defense to attack” – stop fending off a constant onslaught of crap and get onto the front-foot by leading with a product strategy

“You’ve got to get the ball over the line” – the product’s not launched until everything on the checklist is done

“On paper…” – theoretically it should happen like this but in reality, it never does around here

“It’s a team sport” – as a product manager you can’t do everything yourself you need to get others to help

“We’ll be judged on results” – getting to launch isn’t the end game: it’s about sales and profit

“They think it’s all over…. it is now!” – our big early adopter has just gone bust

“This game needs a goal” – this product needs a sale

And we couldn’t resist this one…it’s what we do:

“Skip training and it shows on the field” – without product management training you can’t perform at your best

If you can think of any others, please add them below…

Ian Lunn
Director, Product Focus

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Being Dutch I cannot resist to add some quotes of Johan Cruyff who has worldwide recognition as one of the best footballers of all time but is also known for his inimitable football wisdom:

“If you score one more goal than the other team, you win” – If you sell one more product than the competition you are marketleader.

“The ball is an essential part of the game” – The product is an essential part of your success

“If we have the ball in our possession, the other team can’t score a goal” – If we have the best proposition the competition can’t win.


How about:

“The cup is a great leveller” – so are regulated markets.

“It’s gone to penalties” – approval for your business case is hanging in the balance.

As well as clichés there’s also the innovations we’re seeing at this particular World Cup. Such as the vanishing spray which is just like a speeded up version of a forecast…


Good to see Cruyff getting a mention. Back in England…

“Early doors” – We’re using Agile and this is the first release.

“Sick as a parrot” – We’re not using Agile and this is all you’re going to get.


Jumpers for goalposts- Taking an MVP approach


“Product Managers are to an organization what midfielders are to a soccer team.”

You don’t have to score (your sales people do that),
you have to protect your defenders (your development team) to be overloaded with work,
and you have to be the person that connects and give leadership to all the other players (development, marketing, sales people, top management, etc.).
Additionally, unless you are as brilliant a product manager as say Kevin De Bruyne is a midfielder, you do not often get a lot of credit for great results.
Still, it’s as enjoyable being a product manager as it is to be a soccer midfielder. And smart people who understand the PM/soccer game, will recognize your strong performance anyhow.


”I think I am special one” Jose Mourinho ,2004 – A good product needs a leader with vision, able to motivate his team and confident about the process! First they buy your passion, then they buy your product!


In the words of John Motson, “the unexpected is always likely to happen”.

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