If people love your product...

After talking with any number of startups and big companies, you'd think everyone is on their platform and it's amazing! I hear a lot of 'ables'. Scalable, Reliable, Maintainable, and so on, it's all there, they've thought of everything and ready for an explosion of . When I ask if any of those are a problem the what if train spins up and that old friend risk aversion sets in -- the product is well on its way to being bloated and steril.

I watched one company in particular build for scale. The goal was to handle millions of users across the US and have an application capable of handling it while being all the 'ables' ... that was not a current problem. The number one customer complaint was more benign and easy to address ...but was overlooked and largely ignored. Money left on the table and customers ignored. Can you guess how that worked out?

As a business there's a strong desire for completeness and appearing that nothing can stop an eminent wild level of success. It creeps in from many factors - Investors and hyper focus on a competitor being one of the worst - they're all distractions. The focus on solving some problem got you to where you are today is what will continue to guide you to the next problem - and I love seeing that.

Solve the problem ...to change the problem

Measure this. How often their complaints, concerns, problems ...change. When this happens, a team is building TO the next problem. One problem is solved, a new one emerges and direction shifts -- just a little bit.

One new area of a system I created for a company focused on a problem : "where are we?" in terms of progress. We knew it was a problem, and we set out to solve that problem and that problem alone. How do we show them that data meaningfully? I created a timeline and we prototyped the hell out of it -- almost immediately the problems changed.

  • Customers want to see a timeline of things in their system
  • they want to know if they're behind
  • they want to know how to share it
  • they want to see what exactly is behind
  • they want to see it sooner
  • they want AI for prediction (uh oh...)

This drove deep into a problem and it became clear there was a lot more here - build to the problem, and keep focused.