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How do you decide which features to build?
This week's topic: Offering things to consider when deciding the roadmap for your product(s).
“We have a huge backlog with so many great ideas. Should we be swinging for the fences with these ideas? Or is there a better way to look at the work we could deliver?”
In the world of product development, there is a common misunderstanding that success only comes from disruptive, groundbreaking innovation. However, some real, impactful work can often lie in smaller, consistent improvements.
Knowing how your business operates and what are the “needle movers” across the board can pay great dividends when it comes to building a roadmap and backlog. Sometimes there are more layers than some people realize, and product people can quickly get caught up in trying to solve every problem instead of really focusing on what problems they should be solving.
Let's explore this in detail with three essential concepts to consider when deciding which features your teams should build.
1. Customer-First, Technology-Second Approach
When we look at some of the world's most innovative companies, like Amazon, it's clear that they put customers at the heart of their innovation strategy. Technology serves as a tool to enhance the customer experience, not the other way around. It's a powerful reminder that successful innovation often stems from understanding your users and focusing on their needs.
By building features that improve their experience, you can create a product customers crave and love using. Over time, a combination of deeply understanding customers and testing out evolving technology had the evolution of Amazon’s product set enable them to become a global leader - especially at a `massive scale such as with their AWS product.
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2. The Danger of Waiting for Perfection
In pursuit of the "perfect" innovative product, many fall into the trap of waiting too long, neglecting existing issues with their product. This delay can lead to a loss of users and, eventually, a decline in your product's performance. Aka, your customers/users grow to hate what you offer them and could start fleeing at the first chance they can.
It's crucial to remember that no product is perfect at launch. The key lies in observing, understanding, and making consistent improvements based on the feedback and needs of your users. I’m a big supporter of iterating on ideas and testing them to validate as long as you can tie the thread between these efforts and the bigger picture/goal. If you can do this, you can comfortably look towards releasing smaller bodies of work and tracking your progress toward the goal.
Eventually, once all work has been delivered, you’ll have a fully realized vision, and hopefully, it’s a winner.
3. The Compounding Effect of Good Changes
Putting all your eggs in one basket with a groundbreaking innovation can be risky, and a failure could have disastrous consequences. As we mentioned earlier, concentrating on smaller, incremental improvements can lead to substantial gains over time.
Every minor enhancement you make has the potential to enhance the user experience, increase consumer satisfaction, and stimulate growth. With each passing day, these adjustments accumulate, culminating in a strong and successful product without jeopardizing everything on a single disruptive concept.
If you haven’t researched much, the compounding effect is a magical concept where starting down a positive path and growing incrementally over time can have huge benefits. Here’s a link to my favorite book that covers this topic, “The Compound Effect: Jumpstart Your Income, Your Life, Your Success.” Check it out and learn how to use these concepts to improve anything from your backlog to your workout planning.
While disruptive innovation can be exciting and consistent, customer-focused improvements often significantly impact your product's success. Don't let the pursuit of the next "big thing" distract you from making the small, impactful changes that can drive your product forward.
Remember, a steady hand at the wheel, guided by user feedback and focused on incremental improvements, can lead to growth and success without waiting for the elusive game-changing idea.
Have an interesting story about your approach to deciding what to build? Leave a comment and tell us about it.
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