How Product Managers Can Build Empathy with Agile Teams

A little dogfooding can go a long way

John Mecke
9 min readJan 23, 2022


Product managers serve many constituencies — customers, partners, development, operations, marketing, sales, support, finance, etc. While they would like to be considered to be the CEO of their product, they’re not. Product managers inherit constraints that are set by the CEO or other executives in the company. A core challenge for product managers is to use their influence to optimize how all parts of the organization work to achieve the product and company’s goals. A key way to grow influence is empathy. Empathy is a critical product management skill. Having product managers and product owners build a project to enhance their product backlog prioritization calculations using a low code platform might be a good way to build empathy. Sometimes a little dogfooding goes a long way.

Empathy Is A Critical Product Management Skill

A key way for product managers to build influence is empathy. As pointed out by ProductCraft:

Empathy in product management means being able to slow down enough to listen and observe, humble enough to learn and change, and able to not only know what someone is dealing with but to feel and understand it with them.

Why Empathy Is Critical to Success as a Product Manager

While most product managers have a technical background, they usually are not former developers, QA engineers, or Operations experts. Yet the success of these groups is directly tied to how well product managers do their jobs. Do they understand the product vision? Do the user stories and backlog items make sense? Are the acceptance criteria reasonable and relevant? Does the prioritization of backlog items make sense?


It’s Time for a Little Product Management Dogfooding

One of the best ways for product managers to build empathy with their Agile teams is to ‘walk a mile in their shoes Product leaders should consider an internal project where their product managers and product…



John Mecke

John has over 25 years of experience in leading product management and corporate development organizations for enterprise firms.