Back to talking about product! Last week, I talked about the importance of product prioritization and the product roadmap. I’ve also shared takeaways from Des Traynor of Intercom talk on product development. Specifically, how to drive adoption and engagement. Today, here’s a framework for product prioritization – RICE.
  • Reach – How many customers or prospects would a feature/ development engage?
  • Impact – What is the outcome/ results of a build? Would this drive engagement – feature/ user adoption? Drive revenue?
  • Confidence – How likely would development have the effect on reach and impact?
  • Effort – How many total man-hours/ weeks/ months would this development take? Remember to include hours for each resource across functions (i.e. product, front-end, back-end).

Intercom suggests teams add bands of scores to quantify each factor as best as possible. For example, to understand the factor of Impact, scoring can follow: “3 for ‘massive impact’, 2 for ‘high’, 1 for ‘medium’, 0.5 for ‘low’, and finally 0.25 for ‘minimal’”.

Combine each of the scores for:

The idea of RICE is to measure each potential development (feature, build) objectively to drive the most value – benefit vs. resources.

Leaning on Des Traynor’srecent talk “Lessons Learned In Growing A Product”, I want to highlight Des’ message on starting out very focused and simple. Des cited Gall’s Law around systems theory to build a successful company.

A complex system that works is invariably found to have evolved from a simple system that worked. A complex system designed from scratch never works and cannot be patched up to make it work. You have to start over with a working simple system. – John Gall (1975, p.71)**

I’ve written plenty of times about starting very focused including a chapter in Postmortem of a Failed Startup titled “Start Small and Targeted and KILL IT.” I believe it’s the smartest, quickest, and cheapest route to building a successful product/ company.
Some key points from Des about starting simple:
  • “Insanely big ideas should start insanely small”
  • Salesforce’s website started way back in the day with two calls-to-action/ messaging: “Free trial/ membership” and “Forecast the Pipeline”
  • “Start not where successful companies are, but where they started.” This point resonated with me greatly, too, because many big, successful companies tend to start very small solving a major problem. Over time, its breadth of products and services grow pushing complexity and pricing beyond many companies (especially smaller). This creates a gap for new players to come in simple, small, and focused. (And thus, the circle of life…)
  • When you know the problem well, distill to workflows which you build features to enable
  • “A small list of ‘target users’ beats a big list of non-customers”. This point goes into the importance of knowing your audience and solving their real pains.

There are lots more good points from Des’ talk to which I highly recommend you check out.

What are some of your take-aways from Des’ talk? Any of these messages resonate with you? Why?
** Note: John Gall was an American author and pediatrician who wrote in 1975 a book, General systemantics : an essay on how systems work, and especially how they fail….
I watched one of Intercom’s cofounders, Des Traynor, give a talk “Lessons Learned In Growing A Product”. It was instantly one of my favorite talks giving a bit of conceptual, visionary/ motivational, and technical.
One of the tenets that really resonated with me was “be insanely diligent about roadmap”. He talks about how most new features are flops, and shares good practices in diligence. Here are some of the key points:
  • Understand the relationship between how often people use a feature to how many people use the feature. He illustrates a chart with “frequency of use” on the y-axis and the “number of users” on the x-axis. The features with high frequency and many people using them represented the core features
  • When improving features, consider improvements (“change”) in quality, importance, satisfaction, and frequency
  • To motivate more use, consider creating: habits, triggers, rewards, defaults, context, and, generally, more uses
  • When launching a product: “exit by feature set or by a deadline, but above all, exit”. The point here is you can go on and on trying to develop a product, but launching enables testing and market traction

There are a ton more golden nuggets in Des’ talk to which I’ll likely spread out over the next couple blog posts. (Yes, I enjoyed it that much.) I highly encourage everyone watch it, even if you don’t know much about startups or technology.