Axl Rose Killed My Quip

One of the first lessons I learned as a product manager for a start-up software company was that you can't please everyone.  Different stakeholders - sales, marketing, support, customers, executives - have varying priorities and often divergent opinions regarding where the product needs to go next.

This is why product management is hard and product managers are ballers.

One of the first mistakes I made as a product manager for a start-up software company was ignoring the first lesson.  I was the world's worst at telling everyone what they wanted to hear and making sure that their feature was "in the pipeline" and "coming soon".

Boy howdy - have I learned to never make that mistake again.

Many moons ago, there was one feature in particular that "triggered" a strong reaction within our organization.  Some wanted it yesterday, others could not care less because they believed that other projects should take precedence.

My co-worker and I found the entire episode fairly entertaining.  Those begging for the feature didn't really "know" what they were asking for - they just knew it was a box that we needed to check in sales conversations.   My co-worker and I also knew that the application had a long ways to go before we could implement the feature in a way that would fully satisfy customer needs.  Plus, we agreed that other issues should take priority, thus we had no plans to move on the feature any time soon.  Moreover, there were a number of organizational factors precluding me/us from exerting any significant effort to advance the project.

Yet, despite all of this, the feature remained on the product roadmap as a "near term" priority.

My bad.

The borderline absurdity of the situation led my colleague and I to begin referring to the feature as Chinese Democracy - which is the title for the way-over-hyped Guns 'N Roses album that has been 14 years in the making, leaked and "unleaked" several times, unanimously thought to not actually exist, and mercilessly ridiculed in the mass media:

In 2005,The New York Times called it "the most expensive album never made" and the "music industry's most notorious white elephant".

Dr Pepper supposedly offered a free can of Dr. Pepper to everyone in America — excluding former Guns N' Roses guitarists Buckethead and Slash — if Axl would man up and finally release the record in 2008.

Spin reviewed the album in 2006 as an April Fool's joke.

Yet, Axl never shut up promoting the record and the music media never stopped publishing his stupid interviews.

As you might imagine, I reaped endless amounts of smug satisfaction from my little inside joke.

So, given the story I just told, try to visualize my shock/disappointment/laughter when I hear this and read that Chinese Democracy supposedly drops November 23.


So it is goodbye to such a thoughtful, flexible, and beloved wisecrack.

I guess nothing lasts forever, even cold November rain.

Note from the author:  My former employer released the beginnings of the "Chinese Democracy" feature a couple months ago.  All we need is just a little patience.