June 19th, 2008 Systems posted by dmerritts View Comments

Add at least one sexy feature per release

Great product managers have very high expectations. We’re always dreaming about how cool or sexy we can make our product. This is often firmly grounded in awesome photoshop mock-ups and well-written requirements.

Enter reality. Engineering looks at your proposal and says: ‘we can’t build that.’ Then, the great PM pushes past the knee-jerk into what is really meant. I mean: it’s software after all, why can’t you do this sexy feature – have you seen some of the video games lately? Well, the engineer manager then returns with the “we can do this, but…”. Typically, the cost of building it is far too great to make your release cycle. Either it will take too much time or an outside contractor.

Well, there are certain sexy features you should invest in. Can you have more than one sexy feature every release? Probably not. But, a sexy feature — if you get it right — can carry your product through other deficiencies that exist. For example, the iPhone didn’t have 3G, but it had a lot of sexy features. Its sexy features overshadow many short-comings that couldn’t be addressed until the next version. The sexy feature will also become an anchor of differentiation that can be used in marketing messages as well.

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