Photo by Emily Morter on Unsplash

After a long hiatus I finally have some new writing up about my favorite questions to ask!

Here is a snippet from one of my favorite questions “what is a bad idea?”

Ideation is about coming up with the “best” ideas. What is the best way to solve this problem? What is the most important? What is best for the business?

The problem with “best” is that it is tied up with all of the biases and assumptions someone already has. To get to what really matters we have to understand the edge of what is good or bad. …

Updated talk at Product School can be found here:

First talk about Adversarial Product Management as part of The Product Mentor:

To make something great it needs to be forged through adversarial means. During this talk, you will understand what adversarial models are for yourself, your teams, and your products. We will touch on the various places that adversarial models are used in today’s world and how adversarial models (with compassion) creates great products.


About Chris Butler

I help teams understand the real business problems they should solve with AI-centered solutions. The teams we work with are generally asked to “do…

Photo by Andy Kelly on Unsplash

You can’t just ‘add AI’ to a project and expect it to work. It isn’t magic dust that can be sprinkled on a product.

The key to building systems that are integrated into people’s lives is trust. If you don’t have the right amount of trust, you open the system up to disuse and misuse.

This post (and this corresponding talk below) was originally created for product people getting started with data science, machine learning, and AI as part of the Product School on May 30th. …

Yesterday during Google IO a project called Duplex to interface between a request to a Google Assistant and a real business in the real world via phone.

You can see the very impressive demo here:

Many people in the AI community immediately hailed it as a huge step forward in the combination of these techniques.

However, there is some concern:

While I’m always a bit skeptical of any general and immediate backlash against a technology that hasn’t been used for bad there are very good points about this that should be discussed.

Is it ethical?

Last week I started the online…

TWiML & AI meetup talk: Trust in AI

I was very happy to present at the TWiML & AI meetup on the topic of Trust in AI. The topic is at the center of how humans use machines and how they will integrate them into their teams longer term. As we will see it is a very important but difficult topic to understand.

“Trust facilitates cooperative behavior”

To start the discussion we reviewed four papers on the topic of trust and automation:

Don’t “do something interesting” with data, AI, and ML—do something human-centered

If you are a team with lots of data, how often have you heard the “do something interesting” request from managers, executives, and product people? I’m guessing a lot.

When building AI, machine learning, and deep learning systems the request might be “do something better than us humans could come up with.”

In design fields requests for clarification will be followed up with “I’ll know it when I see it.”

But, it’s really hard! Where do you even start?

The reason it’s so hard is that the idea of insight is reversed. It shouldn’t be about looking at data and…

Thematic roadmapping, in practice

Photo by Matt Duncan on Unsplash

The daily struggle for product managers is answering one single question posed by executives, PR, marketing, sales, and customers: “What’s next?”

Instinctively, you believe a roadmap is the solution. But it hasn’t always worked out in the past. How many have actually helped the organization? How many have just blown up in your face?

Thematic roadmapping as a starting point

I first came across thematic roadmapping through Jared Spool’s article in UIE about Bruce McCarthy’s original idea of themes.

Unfortunately, the traditional roadmap is a poor way to set expectations and understanding with these teams. Bruce McCarthy has a lot of thoughts on why they fail…

Design for AI 2018 Report, part 1

We are always trying to learn from others within academia and the industry. Research alone into AI, machine learning, deep learning, etc. has increased 9x since 1996. We wondered what other people in the industry were doing when applying these technologies to people’s problems and lead to us creating the Design for AI survey.

At first, we were really focused on the design side and wondered how other teams were doing it. Over 18 questions (~7 minutes per response on average) we dove into how people work on teams building AI. …

Talk summary:

How do you know you (or someone you are managing) are a great product manager? How do you continuously push the quality of product work higher in your organization? How do you identify what is ‘great’ product work anyways? This talk will give methods to help product managers grow and be great. It will be helpful for people that are product manager managers today, those who want to be managers, and any product manager that wants to take their skills up a level.


Contact info:


  • Philosophie…

People generally have a hard time understanding the objective role that product people play. When other people on our teams don’t understand what product people do, how can we ever get good at it? We have found that getting together frequently as a product people to do critiques raises the quality of all product people.

After college, I started my career at Microsoft in the program manager position. At Microsoft there were excellent resources for PMs including bootcamps, mentorship programs, internal newsletters, and more. Along with all of this support and education came a common statement:

“PMs aren’t useful for…

Chris Butler

Chaotic good product manager

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store