John Wooden, legendary UCLA coach who won 10 NCAA championships in a 12-year period including seven in a row once, said one of the most resounding things I’ve ever heard:

“If you don’t have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?”

I think I’ve heard a variation of this from somewhere that goes on, “If you don’t have time to do it right the first time, you must have time to do it a second time.”

I looked up local entrepreneur-turned Atlanta hero, celebrity, and savior (for startups and entrepreneurs, at least) David Cummings on his blog for any tidbits of sage advice.  I searched for “features” and found a few, and really appreciated one particular post — “Consider Future Manual Labor When Adding New Features“.

In essence, Cummings talked about realizing the ramifications of building new features, especially when considering the manual labor downstream.  Pushing for features to go out the door quickly for testing is part and parcel to the Lean Startup process, but there must also be a careful consideration about the effects downstream as well.

As we build Body Boss, we’ve come to realize there were a few features that were just wholly cumbersome to use, especially speaking with coaches.  Each time we considered new features, or even existing ones, we have to take a careful look at whether or not we’re really addressing the problem in addition to if we’re just putting a bandaid.  Because in the end, our customer-partners will tell us if they don’t like the new bandaid vis-a-vis complaints or low adoption.

However, if our customer-partners continue to clamor for the better, simpler design or robust feature, it signals that it’s not that the feature is poor, it’s that the implementation is poor.  Much like Cummings blogged about, as we build out features (you, too), careful consideration should be done to understand whether or not the actual implementation is just a bandaid or if it goes to actually building a better feature, and in these days especially, is the feature SIMPLE???  Simple not just for the users, but also for you the Company — the builders.  Simplification leads to higher adoption.

So going back to Coach Wooden, if you don’t build your features and your product right the first time (and you’ll know it), when will you have time?  If you hear your customers clamoring for it, but they aren’t using it, chances are, you haven’t implemented it the right way.  Look at it from your customers’ perspectives, and if you start struggling with the feature, chances are, too, that your customers have the same hang-ups.  Let’s just hope that when opportunity comes knocking that you have the chance to still fix it the right way; else, your customers may just look for someone else that IS willing to do it the right way.

What are your thoughts on building out a product or a new feature?  Have you had trouble where you’ve built features, and haven’t seen it adopted despite customers wanting it?  If so, how, and how did you remedy it?

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