Ethics is an important part of each individual. Every person is different from the other and so are the ethics they follow and incorporate.
Our ethics are a part of what completes our identity, personality, something that upholds our self-worth and ensures that we respect ourselves. It is a line that we do not cross for the good of us and those around us. Crossing our own code of ethics envelopes us with guilt.
Although ethics are vital and are for the good of all, there is a flaw. Personal ethics can get in the way of the profession. This is why it is crucial to establish ground rules and ethical codes in any profession.
Product Management is relatively new and, some might even say controversial, profession in the industry. This is why it lacks a strong framework of ethics. So, let us dive deeper into this and it may also help you if you choose or plan to give any product management interviews in the future.
1. Why Do Ethics Even Matter for Product Management?
Product Management is a very powerful profession. It is intricately designed to bring about new ideas that can sometimes be extremely persuasive and even manipulative.
The product of the company is the company’s lifeline. One of the roles of a Product Manager is to keep their product up and running in the market as long as profitability can be assured. However, it is of the essence that they play by the rules and adhere to good and acceptable codes of conduct.
2. How Does It Connect to Customer Satisfaction?
Customer satisfaction keeps business running and brand popularity flowing. Hence, ethics are important for a brand to be customer-centric. They should not exploit the vulnerabilities of the business’s clients and customers.
Furthermore, the consumers of the digital era are becoming increasingly aware of whatever they are getting into and what they are paying for. Additionally, customers and clients can spot and recognize unethical behaviors like the usage of click baits easier than ever before thanks to increasing technological literacy. Such practices affect the brands and the business’s respect and dignity in the eyes of the people leading to loss of clientele.
3. Extended Usage of Products Leading to Health Hazards
This is something that the product managers have to keep in mind about their company’s products.
Any new product introduction can be a potential addiction to some individuals in this world. This addiction can lead to continuous extended usage of the product at the expense of the person’s health. Popular examples for this are social media applications, games, and video streaming platforms.
Gaming is a very popular example. The development of the computer gaming industry has brought out instances of people gaming for long hours and compromising their health. In some instances, this even led to the loss of lives.
Eventually, the World Health Organization (WHO) coined the term “Gaming Disorder”. It is a disease defined as a pattern of computer gaming behavior characterized by impaired control over gaming.
Such instances led to controversies on what is ethical and what is not. Hence, to minimize any health-related mishaps, many brands are actively imposing restrictions or are providing insightful data on the amount of usage time.
Apple’s Screen Time feature and PUBG Mobile’s extended usage restrictions are a popular example of this.
4. Manipulating Users for Personal Benefit
There is a thin line between persuasion and manipulation. More than anyone, you as a Product Manager should be aware of this.
In the context of product usage, persuasion is when you try to convince your user into taking actions voluntarily that benefit both parties mutually. On the other hand, manipulation is when the user is involuntarily subjected to an action that benefits you but may or may not benefit the user.
Often, these are very subtle and are not illegal. However, manipulative actions are deemed unethical and can cause a serious reputation loss for your brand when they are brought to light.
A very common example is when the user tries to download a software on a computer but involuntarily agrees to download additional their-party software or extensions. This can be detrimental to the user.
One more example is of certain applications that by default have access to your location services unless you voluntarily revoke the access. This is deemed unethical and manipulative. The appreciable practice is to make the user aware of the requirement of access to location services and ask for permission.
5. Accessible by Everyone
As a Product Manager, you are expected to make your products accessible by anybody without any discrimination.
It is fair for you to choose your targeted consumers or impose age restrictions on your products but there should be no barrier that cannot be overcome by a human being.
Making a product inaccessible to certain groups is not as unethical as the other aforementioned cases. However, it is appreciated when the inaccessibility barrier is weakened as much as possible. This will also generate more revenue for your company.
6. Intrusion of Privacy
Privacy is a growing concern in today’s world, and any intrusion is not tolerated by the users at large. It is your responsibility as a Product Manager to respect and uphold the privacy of your product’s users.
With the growing number of versatile devices around us, it is becoming increasingly difficult to keep track of which device acts how.
For example, voice assistants like Siri on Apple devices can store the user data exclusively on the user’s device to minimize the risk of espionage and improve customer safety.
As a product manager, you should be accountable for the actions of your developed product and its impact on the lives of its users.
Unethical and immoral practices can lead to your dismissal from a company. At the same time, the proper and appreciable code of ethics in the workspace has always been fruitful.
Product Management is a large ocean with potentially endless possibilities and opportunities. To learn and grow more in this field, try any of the Product Management certification courses available online.