Product Velocity: Eliminating Mediocrity

In a matter of seconds, every product manager can name their product features that are mediocre performers. So, why are they still part of your product? Cut loose the dead weight if you want to fly and drive product velocity.

Several years ago, when change.org was faced with a quickly diminishing revenue stream, we had to pivot and move in a completely new direction. We decided to cut loose the B2B model that had generated tens of millions in revenue and adopt a B2C strategy that until then had little to no investment or development.

From the start, we knew the mobile native space was key versus mobile web, so we dedicated an entire team to this. We quickly rolled out three product features revolving around the core change.org app. Overall these new features scored well in discoverability, engagement and retention. They provided a material upgrade in product experience and value for users. Still, acquisition consistently lagged behind, and the overall value of these features was clearly mediocre.

At that moment, I returned to an old mantra of mine that helped me through this process. It says – “Success means focus. Focus means saying no.”

We could have kept these applications live as they helped solve problems for users, and that’s important. We might have hoped they eventually grew stronger. However, the writing was on the wall – and all three were canceled within three months due to interdependent complexity.

The High Cost of Mediocrity.

Consider the pernicious cost of keeping mediocre product features on board, such as:

  • Complexity for users
  • Complexity of code
  • Design complexity
  • Complexity for your org
  • Maintenance costs
  • Decision-making costs

The complexity of any organization is challenging to navigate. Ask yourself: what’s more important – your support for a feature or the organization’s core mission? If you choose the organization, then mediocre performers should be retired quickly.

Wasting time and effort defending a resource drain makes no sense at all. Mediocrity slows things down and increases overhead. Plus, the extra weight may mask delightful features that could drive explosive growth.

Simply put, you need to find the product features that you feel are mediocre – and get rid of them. Plus, make sure you give people lots of advance notice. For example, “in six months time, this will no longer exist.” They might get mad, but they’ll get over it – especially when overall performance improves.

Remember, success means focus. Focus means saying no. This is fundamental for moving ahead faster and sparking product velocity. Clear the way for the highest impact and return, and don’t let the mediocre hold you back.

 

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About the Speaker
Nick Allardice
Change.org Product VP
Nick Allardice is the VP of Product at Change.org - the world’s largest and fastest growing dedicated platform for people power and social change. Prior to joining Change.org, he founded Live Below the Line - an international online campaign that fights extreme poverty. He held leadership roles at Make Poverty History, The Oaktree Foundation and OzGREEN. Nick is an Australian who splits his time between New York and San Francisco.

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