Saying 'No' to Innovation

February 7th, 2014 by inflectra

Sometimes the hardest thing you can do is to exclude innovative ideas from your product, but success requires focus, and focus requires you to say 'no'.

A famous director who shall remain nameless, once said that just because you have an incredible shot, doesn't mean it should be in your movie. You may have the most stunning metropolitan rain sequence, but it may not enhance your city-based love story. With that one incredible shot you may lose or confuse your audience. The scenes of a movie need to work with and not against one another.


This principle can be applied equally when building a software product, where options and menus can be added and removed faster than most films can be edited. If you are a Product or Project Manager, you may find the following scene rather familiar.


Scene : One of your software engineers has come up with a truly innovative feature and is trying desperately to persuade you to include it in the next release of your software product.


Engineer: “This idea is so cool! Let's add it!”


You: “No. It's not in the product roadmap.”


Engineer: “But it's something none of our competitors have done. Let's add it!”


You: “No. And we don't want to differentiate ourselves with spurious capabilities, no matter how cool they are.”


Engineer: “We really could attract a lot of business if we position this properly.”


You: “No. It's really outside the scope of the corporate strategy. We are not that company.”


Engineer: “This was very difficult to achieve. Can't we use it somehow?”


You: “No. Your ingenuity always impresses me, but if we're to continue to be a success we need to put our effort into items in the plan.”


Engineer: “But I did this in my own spare time. Isn't it worth including?”


You: “No. I appreciate your enthusiasm but we would need to allocate more effort to testing, documentation, internal training and a whole host of other needs to support this moving forward.”


Engineer: “Trust me, our users will love it!”


You: “No. It's a cool idea, but it's not why our users buy our products. It could very easily confuse our users instead.”


Engineer: “But...”


You: “No!”


It may be difficult, but sometimes you must just say 'No!'



Alternate ending for those who like to have their cake and eat it:


Engineer: “But...”


You: “Don't worry, put the code under configuration control. I'll enter the proposal into the ideas section of our requirements database and link the idea to the code in the CM tool so we won't lose track of the work. We'll review it during the next cycle. Good work!”


It may be difficult, but with robust ALM tools you can just say, “Maybe”.

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