Adapt, Exapt, or Reapt Product Features?

The Quest to Achieve Market Fitness

Adapt and Exapt Features

Reapt Features

Ippantekina, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
  • Alert users to an underestimated feature: In a digital product release that included many new features, one was not noticed as much as it deserved. Adding an icon or otherwise highlighting that feature might help users rediscover it.
  • Remove a restrictive constraint: A new law, like the Chinese school tutoring ban, may suddenly eliminate a viable market. If that law is later removed, the market may reemerge.
  • Go from uniformity to diversity: An enterprise implements a broad transformation of its ways of working. Everybody is forced to follow the new process. However, because of the nature of their tasks, some teams appear to work more effectively using the old methods.
  • Add an enabling constraint: An influential personality’s voice may gain broad popularity for an older product or product type. The influencer may be an industry thought leader or another product, like the popular Netflix series that helped Kate Bush reach UK No 1 after 37 years.
  • Strengthen the ecosystem: The last five years have seen the programming language Python, created in the early 1990s, gain enormous popularity. The language and its purpose are unchanged, but a plethora of independent frameworks have added new support.

What can we learn from all this?

  • We risk throwing the baby out with the bathwater when we change too many things at once.
  • We tend to overgeneralize the value of successful change. Fit for purpose is not a context-free property.
  • Highlighting the features we already have in our products can sometimes be a more feasible approach to achieve market fitness than developing new features (adapt) or repurposing old features (exapt).



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Staffan Nöteberg

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