Imagine if you were as good at killing product features, as you are at coming up with new ones? It’s an interesting concept, don’t you think?
I have often found that one of the major stumbling blocks towards innovation and increased success is parts of what you already have. The more legacy, you build up, the harder it becomes to really push ahead, as there will always be some sort of argument to be had for spending your time and effort on trying to improve legacy features or products rather than come up with new, largely untested ones.
But you should really consider going on an internal product and feature killing spree in order to weed out those elements of your product(s) that may once have been your darling(s) but now are not really adding value anymore.
And I think there are two very compelling arguments for why you should go through this exercise in regular intervals.
First of all, if you don’t do it, be sure that your competitors are going to. Because aside from coming up with their own bright, innovative ideas, they are looking for weaknesses to exploit in your product(s). And those are most likely exactly the same ones as the ones, you should be putting out of their misery yourself.
Second, by eliminating features and products you don’t really need anymore, you get yourself in a much better position to grow your future business. You free up valuable ressources that you would otherwise have needed to spend keeping these outdated features alive, and you also have the opportunity to use the exercise as an inspirational tour towards what you need to build next. Because maybe, just maybe, there is something in the old that will be a powerful guidance towards what should come next.
It is truly a helpful exercise to do every once in a while, and it helps keep your startup at its toes by always being on the edge and attacking (pardon my French) the market in an aggressive form with great products and features rather than trying to protect something, which you deep down know can’t really – and shouldn’t – be defended over the longer term.
I fully realize it can be an awkward feeling to go about killing features rather than giving birth to new ones, but just remember that you’re doing it, because your darlings have served their purpose, and now it’s time to let them provide room for something new and even better.