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Product management lessons learned through King Crimson lyrics

Almost every musician I listen to carries influences of the progressive rock band King Crimson. For instance, my favorite musician Steven Wilson has put out entire albums that (to me) sounds like a King Crimson “project”. Including his debut solo album Grace for Drowning which featured several King Crimson members including Tony Levin.

Today, I realized not only does King Crimson’s sound echo prodigiously within the discographies of my favorite artists, they’ve also had a thing or two to say about good (and bad) product management over the decades!

Without further ado, I present: product management lessons learned through King Crimson lyrics.

Epitaph

Knowledge is a deadly friend

If no one sets the rules

The fate of all mankind, I see

Is in the hands of fools

Great power comes from great responsibility and your team looks to you to set the rules. If they sense they’re in the hands of fools, well, confusion will be their epitaph … it’s important to set a strong vision and get buy-in!

Three of a Perfect Pair

She is susceptible

He is impossible

They have their cross to share

Three of a perfect pair

He has his contradicting views

She has her cyclothymic moods

They make a study in despair

Three of a perfect pair

This song is clearly about channeling healthy conflict within “The Triad”: engineering, design, and PM. If things get complicated, aggravated, you’ll end up with a perfect mess.

Starless

Sundown dazzling day

Gold through my eyes

But my eyes turned within

Only see

Starless and bible black

If there’s any reason why product managers exist, it’s to set a direction and chart a path for their team to get there. Without a north star, your smiles will only signal emptiness.

Frame by Frame

Frame by frame (Suddenly)

Death by drowning (from within)

In your, in your analysis

Product managers are constantly making and facilitating decisions. Speed and quality count. Breaking things down step by step can help ensure you don’t fall prey to analysis paralysis so you can keep your team unblocked.

Dinosaur

Ignorance has alway been something I excel in

Followed by naivety and pride

Doesn’t take a scientist to see how

Any clever predator could have a piece of me

Unlike the fossil in these lyrics, a product manager should reflect and learn from their mistakes. For that matter, a good product manager is always eager to learn and innovate. Otherwise someone will be digging your bones, too …

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