The X, Y, and Z’s of Product Development

A certain thing happens in product development…  (It used to bug me to death, until I got used to it.)  Your product development team just finishes a great new feature.  Everybody rejoices.  Good feelings, pride, and celebrations.  All that…  The new release is posted on the web, and you start to get downloaders.  Potential customers are giving it a look.  And you know they are seeing the great new feature you just added.  It has “X” and “Y” new things.  Everyone will love it.  Everyone will buy.  You’re sure of that!  Finally… we’ve gotten a great product out there…

The next thing you know, you get an email from an evaluator.  He can’t believe how short-sighted your product is.  In fact, he’s practically indignant.  It’s missing a key feature he needs, and he can’t belive you’d ever consider shipping a product without it.

He asks, “Can you do it?  When will it be available?

“Maybe, next month.  Can you describe it more fully?”

“Oh, I can’t wait that long…  Forget it.”

The situation is that you’ve completed “X” and “Y” but haven’t gotten to “Z” yet.  And that’s what spoiler-boy wants.  Problem is, you never considered “Z” until you completed “X” and “Y.”  Or worse yet, didn’t consider it until he pointed it out.

This is so common.  People cannot see to very down the product road-map.  That’s human nature.  They can see “X” and “Y” but only have fuzzy glimpses of “Z.”  That is, until some grumpy customer complains that it’s not in the product.  He doesn’t see the hard work you put into getting the first releases out.  I.e. getting “X” and “Y” out.  He just sees that “Z” is missing, and feels pretty certain that he can’t do without it.  He’ll move on…  Somebody out there must have it.  “I’ll look around…” he says.

Better get cracking.  Again…



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