Dirk Riehle's Industry and Research Publications

Looking for Simple Examples of Product Management Failures and Challenges

I’m looking for simple examples of product management failures and challenges that I can use in teaching our product management course. Photos or short stories would be great. To give you an idea of what I’m after, here are three examples.

Unmaintainable Teacup

This unmaintainable cup with saucer is probably a best seller, but I’d only give this as a gift to a person I don’t like. It will probably be destroyed during the first dishwasher run or will cause cleaning grief to the owner for many years to come.

The Way Toilet Paper Rolls

I didn’t know this, but the way you put a toilet paper roll onto its hanger is a major source of war between two factions, as Wikipedia explains. Of course there is only one true engineering way, but I’m not going to tell you which one.

Simple Product Management Failure

This screenshot shows an example where the product manager didn’t think through a process. I was trying to log-in to a site but had forgotten my password. My account was old and I probably never had entered a security question. Some time in-between a security question and answer had been added to the website. With no security question, I’m guessing my security answer was also empty, however, I could not enter it because the site was expecting a non-null answer (reasonable under most circumstances).


Please Send Examples!

Do you have examples? Please comment on this post or send me email.



  1. Flo Avatar

    Don Norman’s “Design of Everyday Things” contains some examples of badly designed products. Several Google PMs have recommended this book to me, so I guess it might be a good fit for a PM seminar. There is also a free Udacity course taught by Don Norman himself: https://www.udacity.com/course/design101
    In terms of digital products, “Don’t Make Me Think” by Steve Krug features some bad examples, too. Quora could also be a good source for more examples of bad design.
    If you are also looking for simple yet innovative designs, you should visit this thread: http://www.quora.com/Design/What-are-some-awesome-examples-of-simple-yet-innovative-designs

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