Need someone to lead product management at your software company? I create software for people that create software and I'm looking for my next opportunity. Check out my resume and get in touch.

Too Big To Fail

Another risk that comes with overfunding a new idea at a large company is that it becomes a must-win idea. It can’t fail.

Failure is an important part of innovation. Not all ideas are good ones. Ideas that aren’t winning need to die. The company needs to prune them so they can put energy into something else.

When you put a giant team on a nascent idea, you can’t let it fail. Sunk-cost thinking drives you to keep things going because you’ve already invested so much. Politically, the backers of the idea need it to keep going so they don’t have to admit failure. And if you’ve told partners, investors, and customers that this is the next big thing, the face-saving efforts become even more entrenched.

The project can’t be allowed to fail because so much is riding on it.

The possibility of failure is motivating. It drives a team to move fast, make tough decisions, and focus on the most important things. For a startup, knowing you might not make payroll next month is a crystalizing feeling. If a team knows that they have to earn the next month’s funding, they tend to figure out fast what is important.

If your big-company project has a very large team, it is too big to fail. And because it can’t fail, the team loses sight of what’s important. Scope creeps, the mission gets muddled, and timelines expand. And the business keeps supporting it because they just can’t let things fail.

And that causes the product to fail.

Recently Written

Great prodct managers own the outcomes (May 14)
Being a product manager means never having to say, "that's not my job."
Too Big To Fail (Apr 9)
When a company piles resources on a new product idea, it doesn't have room to fail. That keeps it from succeeding.
Go small (Apr 4)
The strengths of a large organization are the opposite of what makes innovation work. Starting something new requires that you start with a small team.
Start with a Belief (Apr 1)
You can't use data to build products unless you start with a hypothesis.
Mastery doesn’t come from perfect planning (Dec 21)
In a ceramics class, one group focused on a single perfect dish, while another made many with no quality focus. The result? A lesson in the value of practice over perfection.
The Dark Side of Input Metrics (Nov 27)
Using input metrics in the wrong way can cause unexpected behaviors, stifled creativity, and micromanagement.
Reframe How You Think About Users of your Internal Platform (Nov 13)
Changing from "Customers" to "Partners" will give you a better perspective on internal product development.
Measuring Feature success (Oct 17)
You're building features to solve problems. If you don't know what success looks like, how did you decide on that feature at all?

Older...

What I'm Reading

Contact

Adam Kalsey

+1 916 600 2497

Resume

Public Key

© 1999-2024 Adam Kalsey.