Anyone can add features – but that doesn’t make it good

Are you adding, adding, adding to your products and calling it innovation? Do you have any process for considering the wholeness and strong-center of a product as a way of filtering the features that go into it? 

Anyone can add features – but that doesn’t make it good

How does YOUR organization make its products or systems better?  Do you improve products by removing features or adding them?  If you are like most software organizations then you improve things by adding features.  You listen to customers and when they tell you they want something, you add it. You listen to the marketing department and when they tell you they want something, you add it.  You listen to your tech staff and when they have something new, you torture them with a long approval process…and then you add it.

Chocolate peanut butter shrimp protein bar with beer

When was the last time you took features out of a product?  When was the last time you said “NO” to a customer request?  How much more cumbersome is your process for removing a feature than your process for adding features? Do you even have a process for removing features? Do you have the guts to say no?

It’s easy to add features to products, so easy that anyone can do it; making feature richness itself a commodity.  People mistakenly believe features differentiate, and maybe 20 years ago they did. But today everyone has tons of features, there’s almost no differentiation through feature richness.  Adding features is easy and it doesn’t require any skill or design discipline, just a monotonous devotion to adding.  Innovation of this type is a cousin to “additive design”.  A lot of people don’t realize that additive design is a hallmark trait of Agile Software Development.  The resulting products arise from a discombobulated array of features selected solely on their individual “priority” to stakeholders, often without any regard whatsoever to the interactions or the wholeness of the product. Agile and other additive philosophies ignore that people have a tendency to want “more” even when it’s not necessarily good for them. Deference is given to short-term impulses versus long-term interests. “More is safety”, says John Maeda, president of the Rhode Island School of Design.

Quoting this article:

“When a consumer is making purchasing choices, the product with more features may seem appealing–but that appeal doesn’t necessarily endure after the purchase has been made. At the point of desire you want more, but at the point of daily use, you want less.

So what happens when that feature-laden product is brought home? Too often, people have no idea what to do with it. A recent study found that half the gadgets returned are actually in good working order, but customers can’t figure out how to operate them. The study found that on average, Americans are willing to spend about twenty minutes trying to figure out how to work a new toy, at which point they tend to give up and bring it back to the store. The cost of returned products in the United States is $100 billion a year.”

Good Design has concrete value in the marketplace. Not only in consumer items that need to differentiate themselves to get sold and stay sold; but also for line-of-business mission applications. When a product or software application is well Designed – it works better, lasts longer, and is used more effectively toward the intended and unintended benefits.

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *