For the last month, the Product Team at Chimp has been approaching projects using the 10x Not 10% model. If you’re involved in product management or design and haven’t already seen Ken Norton’s recent talk at Mind The Product, you should check it out now. Ken explains how approaching product development via orders of magnitude can lead to industry changing product breakthroughs.
But for many of us, we’re not launching whole new products on a regular basis. If you work at a startup or SaaS company you’re probably developing and managing a roadmap for an existing product.
Also, if your organization practices Agile development, 10x-ing might be frowned upon. Agile proponents (myself included) will argue that excellence comes from shipping the small, consistent increments of value. Throwing everything out to ship a 10x version seems like the polar opposite approach.
So, how do you apply these concepts to product management and design on consistent, daily basis?
There are clearly challenges to approaching day-to-day product management through the 10x lens. However, I believe it’s still a useful mantra at any stage of a product.
Shifting ‘10x Not 10%’ to ‘10x OR 10%’
You can apply to 10x model to micro level projects and tasks within the product development lifecycle. However, just because you can doesn’t me you should. There are some tasks that will create meaningful improvements to your product or revenue via 10% improvements.
When optimizing a core workflow of your product, a 10% improvement (a copy change, button colour adjustment, etc) can make a massive difference. Addressing a major road block in a flow or funnel may take little effort but could increase the success rate of your feature by many orders of magnitude.
By shifting from ‘10x Not 10%’ to ‘10x OR 10%’ we can achieve many of the benefits of 10x without replacing the existing product. Take time to look down your current product roadmap and identify projects that should be 10X improvement and those that should be 10% increments. But how do you know which is which?
Here are what I would describe as projects that are good 10x candidates:
Look at your current product. Identify the features or functionality that could easily be reproduced by your competitor. Even now they may be working on a next generation version of your product. The best way to fend them off is to make them irrelevant. Think about how you can leverage 10x thinking to leap frog their innovations by 10 generations.
Vision and Core Competencies
What does your company believe that no one else does? What are you better at then anyone else? What in your roadmap reflects the answers to those questions? 10x-ing those projects will ensure you’re spending your effort on the right things. It will help you stay true to your vision and make sure you’re focused on what you’re best at.
Stuff that’s really broken
Some existing parts of your product may be so buggy and broken that many 10% increments will not make a difference. Throw it out and work through what it would look like to 10x that feature. In the long run, it may take less effort and result in a more valuable experience for your customer.
Applying 10x thinking to these projects will ensure you’re working towards the vision for the product and will be difficult for competitors to emulate.