4 Ways to F Up Product Development
I love sharing frameworks. I love using alliteration. I love building products. Get ready.
In my view, structured product development involves planning a route and allowing for detours; you have to iterate and innovate on multiple dimensions, in concert, to actually take advantage of market opportunity and customer demand. And on this journey, you have to measure where your product team is spending its time to ensure they’re not going in circles. There’s a simple device I like to use for this purpose…
The 4 F’s. Each F has a purpose:
features - take 2 steps forward
fixes - avoid taking 1 step back
foundation - (re)pave the road
future - find new/better route(s)
Catchy, right? I stole it from the former head of engineering at Twitter, who stole it from someone else at Salesforce. My contribution was adding an F (it was originally 3 F’s). If you’ve been reading this newsletter, you know I like to break the Rule of 3.
A recent Reforge blog post on the 4 categories of product problems beyond product-market fit (PMF) reminded me of this. They use a slightly different (better articulated, less catchy) framework:
feature work (aka features)
growth work (aka fixes)
scaling work (aka foundation)
PMF expansion (aka future)
Whatever mental model you prefer, the meta-point is to measure where a product team’s output is directed and discuss whether that drives the desired outcomes.
I’d love to hear about other ways readers think about bucketing product work - please chime in via the comments feature below👇🏾. Pile on even if you don’t believe in PMF, as I sometimes do
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further reading / references
the Rule of 3 as a communication framing construct
the story of how PayPal went “sharp” to find PMF
childish drawing / interpretation