Overheard in Product: Product Copycats, the Ian Malcolm Question, and Early Bird Specials


We’re back with part 5 of Overheard in Product—a series where we round up all of the tantalizing conversations from product folks that you may have missed on the web last week.

This week, we talk about emulation as a product strategy, why you need business strategy before content strategy, the Ian Malcolm Question, rude UX, and early bird specials.

Let’s get to it.

The sincerest form of flattery

Jesse Weaver, Director of Entrepreneurial Design at CMCI Studio, wrote an interesting article, “Emulation Is Not a Product Strategy” back in December.

(Hat tip to Alexandra Edelstein for tweeting it out and getting it in my feed!)

This is an image of an article about product strategy that shows a cell phone screen with youtube premium. The title of the article is "Emulation is not a product strategy"

Jesse said, “Emulation as a product strategy is attractive for a lot of reasons. For one, it’s easy. You don’t have to figure anything out; you just copy. It also feels less risky, because other people have already tested the ideas and they work. But this is misleading. In reality, emulation is just as risky as trying something new, and maybe even riskier.”

Biz strategy

Erika Hall, author of Just Enough Research, pinpointed the core problem behind a lot of perceived problems.  

This is a tweet from erika hall about business strategy. This tweet is from January 30 2019.

Folks agree. Jonathan Shariat noted that team struggle can often trace back to “unresolved ambiguity up the chain.”

Clever girl

Product-Medium was on fire this week. Adam Sigel, Head of Product at Hometap, introduced us to “The Ian Malcolm Question” on Tuesday.

this is a screenshot of a medium article title showing the word "the ian malcolm question" in medium's sans serif font

Adam compares opportunities at a company to mosquitos trapped in amber—in the fact that there are a lot of them.

But, he cautions you to ask 3 important questions that would make Ian Malcolm proud before you jump on any opportunity.

These kinds of questions seem to be going around in Boston: Harvard is embedding ethics into its computer science curriculum, urging the next wave of tech leaders to question not only if you can do something but if you should.

Bonus: Healthy, wealthy, and wise?

Researchers looked through ~700k people’s genomes to identify variations between night owls and early birds and paired it with the data from 85k people wearing activity trackers.

What’d they find?

Genes that were flagged in the study touched everything from your retina to processing stimulants. And it seems like being a morning person can be good for your mental health—self-identified early birds were more likely to report higher levels of overall well-being and lower rates of depression.

this is a gif image from the angry birds hatchlings movie of a baby bird and a worm on a picnic
Image source

Margaret Kelsey is a content marketer at Appcues. Before Appcues, she built content programs for InVision’s design community for 3.5 years and has roots in painting and PR. She’s a big fan of puns, Blackbird Donuts, and Oxford commas—probably in that order.

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