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Metrics in; Product discipline out

In the Spring of 2019, we became obsessed with our metrics. Specifically, the metrics that focused on how large of an impact we wanted to have in the lives of our customers as opposed to the metric of how successfully we were solving the key problems in our customer’s lives.

During this period, we lost our ability to execute on a critical product process. The ideal system would have been to:

  1. Listen to our customers, and use that knowledge and that rhythm as a key differentiator for our business and culture
  2. Listen to each other internally to understand how to balance the priority of projects with the size of projects with the impact of projects
  3. Launch new features
  4. Develop a go-to-market muscle
  5. Have honest conversations about the cost of service to deliver the product we had, the product we wanted to have, and the budget available to us to solve this through hiring versus through software

Instead of creating a high velocity loop through these points, we spent two quarters jumping in between these steps at a high cost to our customer’s satisfaction and faith in our ability to deliver the right product.

When we jumped around, missing the first two – and not being customer-centric – allowed us to convince ourselves that whatever we built we were still on the right track as long as we could solve 3 & 4. No customer said we were wrong, and so therefore how could we be wrong?

The eight-ball we fell behind though is that without doing customer research and folding that into planning properly, what you launch and what you onboard and educate your customers about doesn’t matter – it’s not solving a problem that they have. And that’s assuming that launch and go-to-market are themselves working well.

In this case, we weren’t launching anything quickly enough, we weren’t learning quickly enough, and we found ourselves constantly derailed by an inability to reduce the human cost of the service. So now we had a poor track record of delivering customer value, and we were continuously increasing the costs associated with running the business.

BUT – we convinced ourselves that because the metrics that mattered to us were moving in the right direction that everything was going to be ok.

To put it frankly – this path was not ok.

Published in Building Odeko

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