Rule #0 for Product Managers

2023-04-24 by Hisam Fahri

I've always been fascinated to kingdomness, its historical importance, and of course the drama of its succession and the transfer of power. What makes me so fascinated is the fact that I can learn a lot from its story then I can apply it to my own self.

Recently, I've rewatched CGP Grey's video on the history of the British Royal Family. But one line of that video always stuck in my mind ever since I watched that video for the first time:

"Rule 0: Keep your army happy"

That line always stuck in my mind, and I was wondering: "What does the rule 0 for today's manager (especially PM)?"

Why Rule 0 Exists?

In a team (or an army) there will always be a hierarchical order whether you want it or not. It was just a human nature to keep things organised and, believe it or not, to reduce amount of conflict between each other.

But, just because you as a leader is the authoritive ones, that doesn't mean you can do as you pleased. You becomes a leader because you have a team, not vice versa. That's why, in order to maintain your position as the leader, you have to keep your team happy aka the Rule 0.

Why PM Should Care About This Rule?

In today's team (especially a software engineering team), the Product Managers (PMs) or something similar role have become sort of the "leader", or sort of the "king" in the kingdom context. That's because the PM role have a say for the directions of the products and its development itself.

And, as I've stated in the earlier section, PM (as the leader) should really care a lot about this rule in order to maintain their position. Even though their job security as depends a lot on their performance and the higher-ups decision, following or even abandoning the Rule 0 will directly impacts both of those aspects.

A lot of you up until now might thinking that, making our teams happy means that we have to give them a really low expectation for their works, never have a proper discussion with the team and just say "Yes" to every single input, never push their team. No, in fact it's the opposite.

As an engineer, we love consistency. A consistent development flow, a consistent decision, and of course a consistent management.

A great discussion, a managable debates, are really great starting point to implement Rule 0. Because leading is hard, there are countless aspects of it. But, we need to start somewhere.


If in the past, the consecuences of not following this rule are losing the throne or even death, in today's age it might not be like that but you and/or your teams destiny might at stake. Then, good luck :).