Strong Opinions, Weakly Held: Lessons from Mark Zuckerberg & Steve Jobs

Weak Opinions, Strongly Held

The first question is what’s the difference between a strong opinion versus a weak one in product management? A strong opinion is one where there is a clear point of view and the product team goes all in on that point of view. Apple going touch based with the iPhone when every other device had a keyboard is such an example. A weak opinion is when a product decision is a tentative half measure because the team either lacks the clarity or commitment to go all the way. Microsoft’s Windows 8 which was neither a good desktop OS nor a good tablet OS while trying to be both is an example of a weak opinion.

Steve Jobs

There are multiple famous examples of Steve Jobs making a strong statement about what features Apple devices would support then reversing direction by elegantly integrating such functionality in Apple products. Steve Jobs famously saying nobody reads anymore in 2008 then rolling out iBooks in 2010 and saying there’d be no video on iPod because Apple was focused on music in 2004 only to ship video on their portable devices are great examples of saying no until it was time to say yes.

Mark Zuckerberg

The best way to sum up Facebook is that the only constant is change. As with Apple, there are many examples of Facebook going strongly in a particular direction then pivoting as trends begin to change. The most popular story being the tale of how Facebook went from a popular desktop site which treated mobile as an afterthought to being the world’s most popular mobile app. Key excerpts from Mashable’s article on the turnaround include

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Dare Obasanjo

Dare Obasanjo

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"Everything you touch you change. Everything you change, changes you" - Octavia Butler, Parable of the Sower