When I was starting out I didn’t have a large team or a long runway to experiment with products and features. Despite those constraints, I was always the one who advocated getting the design just right and adding a few small features that would make all the difference in the product.
Building products is exciting work! The thrill of putting pen to paper, sketching things out and seeing those things come to life is the trip that most product founders live for.
It is also a primary leading source of death for most startups.
Building something that no one wants.
I have become more self-aware when I start to go overboard with product development over the last couple of years. However, days like today I fail at holding that line. During a product scoping meeting I bulldozed my way through getting an additional piece of software added to the scope.
I am very thankful to have a team around me that is able to use inversion to get my heads out of the cloud and onto what truly matters.
Getting engaged customers. Nothing else matters in the early stages of a startup.
Here are a couple of things I am doing to hold myself more accountable and not be the person on the team who is continuously pushing scope creep:
- Our shorter work cycles are the ultimate constraints as we can only fit a very specific amount of work into the queue. While sometimes I am the product managers and designers worst nightmare, the damage remains limited to the design stage and doesn’t get pushed to engineering.
- We have created a meta map of the top line functionality of the product which avoids us moving wide into tangential new features. While this doesn’t stop going more granular on features it does slow down the surface area of feature/scope creep to a limited zone.
- Empowering the team to challenge and use inversion frequently about why the feature may make the experience worse for users. This is hard to do as founders can be very forceful with their vision. It requires a high level of self-belief in the team’s capability in their own domains.
- Using time to value metrics to benchmark experience. In the early stages of product building any feature or scope addition that doesn’t make the initial experience and establish habit loops isn’t accretive.
Building a good product is difficult. There isn’t a perfect formula to how big or small your MVP needs to be. It depends on who your customer is, the severity of the problem you are solving for and how quickly you can deliver a meaningful experience to the customer that makes them stick.