One Step Backward (A Tale of Redemption)

Let’s say you’re given a feature request, and it’s from the person who signs your checks. You look at the request, only to find that it doesn’t complement the existing functionality and stands a greater-than-average chance of derailing your roadmap. For whatever reason, you can’t say no, and you’d probably like it if those checks continued, right? Time to peel the onion (and be prepared to cry).

Ditch the outer layer of the onion—the original stink-o concept—and go a layer deeper. Keep going until you can get to the underlying request. Sure, on the surface it may look like a nightmare, but chances are good that there’s a seed of an idea there. Can you do anything with that seed? How about if you look at it from another angle? And then you see it: the tiny part of the idea that you can use.

You take the seed and find that it actually dovetails nicely with another feature. Perfect! You review internally and it is approved. The check writer is happy, too. Well done!

And then you test it.

And it bombs.

Take one step backward.

(Fear not, this is a story of hope.)

I’m betting good odds that you have taken the steps to mitigate a complete disaster. So look at the stink-o feedback from your test group. There’s a seed there, too. Something you can use, right? Yes, I knew it! Not only are you a diplomat with the check writer, but you’re a very good Product Manager and can spot opportunity. You take the seeds you’ve collected and you go back to your team. You sweat, you brainstorm, and you find a solution that’s even better.

You take your revised concept to your test group, and they get it. The design is intuitive and the flow is simple. The feature is released and customers react favorably. Life is good.

Take two steps forward. You’ve earned them.

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