The space of possibilities

A wide space of possibilities obstructs our ability to reason and creates room for bad decisions. It's easy to think through the trade-offs and consequences of picking one option when we have four. When we have hundred, our ability to reason becomes crippled. We don't have time or capacity to fully consider every option.

In the context of product development, pruning features and reducing the scope of our product can increase our ability to make better decisions.

Here's a grossly simplified model designed to help you think through the implications. At a given point, to improve our retention at Upframe, our team was considering 2 options:

  1. Improve our existing calendar and enable people to add recurring slots to their calendar.
  2. Build internal messaging so people can have conversations from within our platform.

Here, our space of possibilities is n^2 = 4. We can build either, both or none. As the product grows and we add more functionality, that space can easily grow to n = 20, meaning 20^2 = 400 possibilities.

As our context changes and the market evolves, decisions that we were once proud of making may no longer make sense. At one point, people could use Upframe to book coffees with mentors at physical locations instead of through video call. As we moved beyond Portugal, a functionality that I had been proud of shipping became a distraction. Dropping it gave us mental freedom to embrace opportunities that were more aligned with our new goal and that actually helped us grow.

To reflect

If you had to kill a feature from your product today, what would you pick and why?

Only you know who you can be