The Feature Paradox
It’s funny how we talk about features so much. We talk about it in development all day long. We talk about it in sales and customer care. We talk about it with customers. Even at board meetings we find ourselves talking about features. But at the end of the day it’s not features that got us 30,000+ customer installations. It’s not features that close deals. It’s not features that make our customers love When I Work. It’s not features that put us in a market leader position. It’s not our features that have made us the inspiration for so many of our competitors. If we had relied on features to win, we would have lost years ago.
At a macro level features do influence success, but at a micro level features don’t mean anything. It’s a terrifying paradox and one that often leads to the demise of many software companies. Why is this? How can there be so much talk about features and it not be the linchpin to success? The answer is focus and process. The process that dictates how features are managed and prioritized. And the unyielding focus on making sure the integrity and results of the process are maintained no matter how much it evolves over time. Focus is the difference between doing 10 things really well and 100 things half assed.
The other reason managing the feature paradox requires so much discipline is because there’s an infinite number of features that could be implemented — and we all know that every one would add value to the user, right? That’s the other side of the paradox. At a micro level, implementing every single feature truly would add value, but at a macro level it would add no value at all.
A company’s ability to effectively manage the feature paradox is ultimately what separates the men/women from the boys/girls.