Drawing Maps to understand your Organization and the future

The last 2-4 months I have been stuck with a few concepts like Zooming in and zooming out, breaking problems down. While the concepts are important my interpretations of them are very crude in retrospect. I say that because I believe what I have tried to encompass in 2 blog posts with more on the way, Tim O’Reilly of O’Reilly Media sums it up in 2 lines
Here is a snippet from his book WTF? What’s the Future and Why It’s Up to Us
Making Maps Continue reading “Drawing Maps to understand your Organization and the future”

Diametrically Opposite Skills

This is a phrase I have used a lot in recent meetings in the office. The basic premise is that organizations can’t be good at two skills which oppose each other, which basically require a whole different mindset. Here are a few examples

  • You can either be the largest video platform on the planet or be the largest paid video subscriber base, the two require different skills. YouTube is all about discovering the best user-generated content, Netflix is about consuming the best, now heavily curated, video library. Yes, YouTube has subscription base, but relatively the money will be chump change.
  • You can either be the largest restaurant chain in the world or be an authentic fine dining restaurant. Again, they require very different skills, Subway is all about managing the supply chain to the brand and the consistency in flavor, your favorite eat out around the block may probably have different flavors of food based on who is cooking that day
  • You can either be a mass media newspaper trying to get as many readers and advertisers or a small 1 person publication running paid subscription site.

It is not to say that organizations can’t change their skill set. Microsoft is working hard to move from an Operating System organization to a services organization. New York Times seems to have made a successful move from a traditional newspaper to one driven by subscriptions. But these changes are relatively slow and very deliberate and not to mention challenging. Many have failed to make the transition, Blockbuster for example.
The skillset is driven by the strategy which drives, and also gets driven by incentives, more on incentives and their effects in a future post.
Photo by Pablo García Saldaña on Unsplash

The Product Death Cycle & Its Affect On A Startup

Life is tough for startups. Every day can be an existential crisis, every day can be a challenge to find your first set of customers or product market fit. In this search, Startups spend a lot of time thinking of the one feature which will differentiate them from competition, the feature which will make customers come in running to use their product. If you already have a few customers using your product and you notice growth stalling the most common solution startups think of is trying to find a new feature which you believe can be the catalyst for growth. Makes sense right? If people are not using your product you need to add a feature which will change that. So you ask your customers what they would like, and decide to build that in. Unfortunately, what this leads to the “Product Death Cycle”, something both Andrew Chen & David J Bland have documented. You should definitely give it a read to figure out the issue with product adoption & feature creep.
0_IM4EU55RompGiTOyIf you are early stage startup then you have more challenges:
SALES PITCHES BECOME COMPLEX
Your sales team has to pitch multiple features now. If the new feature is orthogonal to the current set, then they are going to have a tough time trying to figure out which feature to prioritize for each prospect.
MARKETING NEEDS TO PROMOTE MORE FEATURES.
Your marketing team now has more keywords to push, more landing pages to manage, generally more work to do.
SUPPORT & SUCCESS ARE OVERBURDENED
The same goes for your Customer Success & Support teams. The team now needs to work to up-sell to the current customer without more manpower, that means less success & support
NEW FEATURES = NEW BUGS
As you need to write more code, you will inherently have more bugs, which will take away time from your dev team who now have to resolve those issues.
MULTIPLE BACKLOGS
Product teams now have 2 backlogs to manage. Each feature will need more iterations
In short, it is going to push & stress each of your teams. Which will lead to friction, issues & arguments and finally, attrition.

In an attempt to chase everything, you may end up achieving nothing

Unless you have a lot of money in the bank which can help in hiring, you need to be careful when building new features, especially if they are totally orthogonal.
Also published ET Catalysts and Sudo vs Root
Photo credit: topgold via Foter.com / CC BY