Stop thinking in “Features”

How asking “Why?” builds better products


People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it

In his TED talk from 2011, Simon Sinek presented a beautifully simple idea about how all inspiring and innovative individuals and organizations think, act and communicate differently from the rest of us.

Simon claims that almost all organizations start with telling you what they do, go on to how they do it and then finish with why, while truly inspiring organizations always go the other way.

Talking about the “Why?” turns to the primal part of our brain, which affects emotions, behavior and motivation. By doing so, they affect our decision making process.

The limbic system supports a variety of functions, including emotion, behavior, motivation, long-term memory, and olfaction (Wikipedia)

Build solutions, not features

Statistics show that around 80% of all startups fail, this will happen for a myriad of reasons, the money could have ran out, or the talent was simply lacking, however, so many times it will happen because we didn’t stop to think “Why” and instead focused on the “What?”.

I would like to make a claim of my own, I claim that the idea brought earlier, that could potentially help us sell our products, would have helped us build a better product in the first place.

Just think of your friend’s “Amazing idea for an app!”, have you ever noticed it always starts with describing certain functionality? a list of features? Filled with excitement, he would set out to bring his vision to life, and in 80% of the cases, waste a whole lot of money, time and sleepless nights.

If however he would have focused on the problem he is solving, the “Why?“ of his product, he could have (amongst other things):

Ensure product market fit. Clearly defining a problem involves thinking about the audience that is suffering from it. A well defined target audience helps insure you are building something someone needs (Or at least wants).

Extract the MVP. It is much easier to understand, and then build, what is the core of your product when it is clear which problem it aims to solve.

Avoid feature creep. When you focus on solving a well defined problem, you decrease the odds of additional, unnecessary, functionality creeping its way into the product’s scope later on. If there’s doubt it helps solve the problem — it’s out.


Conclusion

I hope this was enough to convince you to always start with “Why?”. I honestly believe that applying this simple principle will help us focus on problems worth solving, and to provide a better solution at the end of the process.

That’s it. It would mean the world to me if you could share your thoughts on this matter.