The “I’m a doctor, not a …” meme has been a running gag across all generations of Star Trek. I’ve extended this to product management.
As any experienced product manager or product owner will tell you, we wear a lot of hats … A LOT OF HATS. This is the norm, and in most contexts perfectly acceptable (in fact, see my follow-up blog post on that very topic). That said, there are those rare times where we are asked to take on a role, an action, or a behavior that is just entirely outside the realm of reason or the role.
It was this latter case that came to mind when I was hit between the eyes with inspiration while overcoming a cold by binging on classic episodes of Star Trek. Specifically, when I heard Leonard McCoy utter the phrase “What am I, a doctor or a moon shuttle conductor?” I began to think about how a Star Trek character might respond if they were cast as a product manager.
So for the past couple weeks, I’ve been keeping a Google Sheet I’ve been updating with “I’m a product manager, not a …” type thoughts that I come across while reading various blog posts, getting into fights on Twitter, or in talking to some of my awesome product pals here in the Raleigh area.
So with tongue firmly planted in cheek, please enjoy, and please, feel free to add more to the list as you see fit.
- Damn it, man, I’m a product manager, not a systems psychic.
- What do you mean what sort of work do I do? I’m a product owner.
- I’m a product manager, not some sort of magician.
- I’m a product manager, not a programmer.
- Look, just because I manage the tasks in the backlog doesn’t make me a team task master.
- Damn it, Captain, I’m your product owner, not your valet.
- I’m not a card catalog, I’m a product manager.
- What am I, a product owner or a personal secretary?
- I don’t peddle technical trophallaxis, I INVEST in product backlog items.
- What am I, a product owner or a short order cook?
- Damn it, man, I’m a product owner, not a doormat.
- I’m not the team’s nanny, I’m their product owner.
- Look, I’m here to talk about the product, not serve as the designated harbinger of bad news.
- I shouldn’t have to remind you Jean-Luc that I’m a product owner and not a hostage negotiator.
- What’s am I, a product manager, or a fiction writer?
The More Fun
Here are some links for additional inspiration:
Memory Alpha — I’m a doctor, not a …
The Many Hats of Product Management — Product Board
Video compilation of “I’m a Doctor, not a …” on YouTube
The Hash Tag
For your convenience and amusement …
… and perhaps a place to contribute to the list …