When Product Managers Do Bad Things

Product managers can do bad things too
Product managers can do bad things too
Image Credit: Photo by Alex Block on Unsplash

I’d like to tell you that the calling to become a product manager is only received by those of us with the highest morals. However, I really can’t say that. What this means is that in the world of product managers, there are the good ones and the not so good ones. I like to spend my time talking about what the goods ones are able to accomplish. However, every so often the bad ones do something that is so clearly bad that I feel compelled to talk about it. It turns out that some of the bad ones work for Greenway Health and they have done some bad things.

What Greenway Health Did

The reason that I know about the bad things that the Greenway Health product managers did is because I read about it in the newspaper. Yep, this is public knowledge. What it means is that both the company, Greenway Health, and the software product that they sell, Prime Suite, are now known for dishonesty. As product managers, we work very hard to attract new customers and to retain the ones that we have. I believe that Greenway Health may have some problems doing this in the future.

What the newspaper told me was that Greenway Health had agreed to pay US$57.25M in a settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice. This is not going to look good on anyone’s product manager resume. What they had been accused of doing was being involved in fraud of the U.S. Medicare system. Medicare is a national health insurance program in the United States. It provides health insurance for Americans aged 65 and older. What Greenway Health did was to lie to both their customers and to the U.S. Government about what was in their product development definition. They told them that their product, records management software, met standards that would allow customers to qualify for payments through a Medicare and Medicaid incentive program.

So what did the Greenway Health product managers do that was so wrong? Simple – they modified their product. They made changes to their product so that it would pass the Department of Health and Human Services certification. The software that the Greenway Health product managers presented for certification was made to look as though it met the qualifications.

Why This Was A Bad Thing

So what’s the big deal you say? It’s a given that the Greenway Health product managers would want to pass the government’s certification test. You might be able to see yourself doing a little bit of modifications if this needed to be done in order to not mess up some ongoing sales. This is where you’d be wrong. The changes were not just made to pass the certification program, they were made so that customers would buy the product because it was certified.

The problem that all of this caused was that customers thought that since the product had passed the government’s certification program they could use it to become eligible for incentive payments. The result of this is that Greenway Health’s customers used the program to collect payments though the incentive program falsely believing that they were eligible. In fact, Greenway Health did a lot of work to attract new customers by touting the incentives that they could get from the government if they used the Greenway software.

The Greenway Health product managers made changes to their program so that they could sneak though the certification process. This allowed them to keep selling their software to unsuspecting customers. It was only after these customers tried to get incentive payments from the government that they discovered that they had been cheated. Yes, there is a good chance that many different people at Greenway Health participated in this deception. However, in the end it was the product managers who knew what they were doing and went ahead and did it anyway.

What All Of This Means For You

When customers purchase products from our company, they do it because they believe that the product will allow them to do something that they currently can’t do. Over at Greenway Health, their product managers were forgetting about their product manager job description and making promises about their product that were simply false in order to get people to buy it. The U.S. Government found out about this and now Greenway Health has to pay $57.25M in fines.

The bad things that Greenway Health did attracted some attention. They got written up in the newspaper for everyone to see. This will make getting future business that much harder. Greenway Health has agreed to pay fines for defrauding the Medicare program. Customers who used their software thought that they could qualify for payments though a Medicare and Medicaid incentive program. The Greenway Health product managers made changes to their program so that it would appear to pass the government’s certification program. After they did this, customers were convinced to buy the program because they thought that by using it they could participate in the Medicare initiative program and collect initiatives. However, they could not. A lot of people participated in this deception, but the Greenway Health product managers were the ones who fully knew what was going on.

Product manager are the ones who are responsible for the products that the company sells. We are the ones who both create and maintain the relationship between the company and its customers. Over at Greenway Health it’s pretty clear that the product managers panicked when they realized that their product was not going to be able to become certified and they then made a series of bad decisions. The rest of us need to learn from this. The customer always comes first – do no harm!

– Dr. Jim Anderson Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Product Management Skills™

Question For You: What could the Greenway Health product managers have done when they realized that they had a problem?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

Let’s face it, today when you see a car on the road you expect to see a person sitting behind the wheel. However, if some very smart product managers have their way, in the future you might be seeing driverless cars whizzing around. This is all brand new stuff, but there have been a number of very large investments being made in companies that make robotic delivery vehicles that are driverless. Will their product managers be able to solve all of the challenges that will be coming with this new technology?