The Anti- Product Management/Product Marketing Class

I don’t know what recently reminded me of the classic 80’s comedy film Back to School, starring the one and only Rodney Dangerfield, but a certain scene from that movie is a great (and funny) example of an anti-product management, anti-product marketing class.

Self-made millionaire Thornton Melon (played by Dangerfield) goes back to college to repair his relationship with his son, a student at the school. One of Thronton Melon’s first classes is led by the stereotypically stuffy, ivory-tower business professor Dr. Phillip Barbay (Paxton Whitehead).

As Dr. Barbay informs the class they will create a new manufacturing company, Melon asks, “What’s the product?” After a few failed attempts to dismiss the question (Barbay: “Let’s just say they’re ‘widgets’!” Melon: “What’s a widget?!”), an exasperated Dr. Barbay finally insists the specific product they will make “doesn’t matter!”  That’s absolute heresy for any self-respecting product marketer or product manager!  Of course, the entire scene is well worth watching.

Update: On the contrary, Dr. Barbay: the idea, the answer to “What’s the product?” is, of course, everything to the company’s success.


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