What’s the best way to prioritize product features?

Jack Dorsey (Co-Founder, CEO at Twitter and Square)
Jack Dorsey: The CEO as Chief Editor – YouTube

There are a million things that we could be doing, but only one or two are important. There’s all these stories from our users, from engineers, from support. We need to choose the one or two (or the intersection of a few) that are really going to drive the success of the product.

What’s the best way to prioritize product features?

Brian de Haaf (Co-founder and CEO @ Aha!)
How to Say “No” to Your CEO’s Random Product Ideas

Here’s how to [prioritize]: 1. Goal first. Set your product strategy and then be proactive about communicating it within the rest of the organization. Define your vision and make sure everyone understands it, then your strategy can say, “No” for you. 2. Score ideas. You should rank features and prioritize the ones that will have the greatest impact on the product and the company. 3. Share your roadmap. Our product team shares our roadmap regularl… (read more)

Slava Akhmechet (Founder at RethinkDB)
57 startup lessons

Learn the difference between people who might buy your product and people who are just commenting. Pay obsessive attention to the former. Ignore the latter.

Ben Erez (Product at Breeze)
22 Mistakes I Made as a First Time Founder — Viabilify

Anyone can get a potential customer to say they’re interested in something by asking the right questions. The only form of interest that ended up mattering to us from a potential customer was a full integration of their mobile presence, inventory and customer relationship processes into our software.

Ben Yoskovitz (VP Product at VarageSale, VP Product at GoInstant (acquired by Salesforce), Author of Lean Analytics)
Customer Support is the Ultimate Learning Experience

Most often, you just don’t know what people are going to do when they get their hands on your product. And customer support is the learning engine that can drive the company forward in terms of resolving usability issues, fixing bugs, prioritizing features, increasing virality/word-of-mouth and more.

David Jackson (Founder, Seeking Alpha)
What problem are you solving? | A Founder’s Notebook

Explicitly articulating the user need and the proposed solution exposes your assumptions and makes it easier to test them (eg. with a survey) and entertain alternative solutions. This isn’t limited to product. In Seeking Alpha, we often talk about backing into the question. “Hey, I’ve had this great idea!” “What question is that idea answering?” “Ah, here’s an even better answer to that question…”

David Jackson (Founder, Seeking Alpha)
How data should improve your product | A Founder’s Notebook

The job description of a data scientist in a startup: To interpret data into actionable decisions for the product, marketing and customer support teams.

Alan Klement (Author and Consumer Insights Analyst)
Replacing The User Story With The Job Story — Jobs To Be Done — Medium

Frame every design problem as a Job, focusing on the triggering event or situation, the motivation and goal, and the intended outcome: When _____ , I want to _____ , so I can _____. For example, “when an important new customer signs up, I want to be notified, so I can start a conversation with them. ”

Sam Altman (President at Y Combinator)
Startup Playbook

Prioritization is critical and hard. (Equally important to setting the companys priorities is setting your own tactical priorities. What I’ve found works best for me personally is a pen-and-paper list for each day with ~3 major tasks and ~30 minor ones, and an annual to-do list of overall goals. )

Ben Yoskovitz (VP Product at VarageSale, VP Product at GoInstant (acquired by Salesforce), Author of Lean Analytics)
Prioritize Product Development by the Four Stages of Use

Think of your product less in terms of features and more in terms of the experience you’re trying to provide from start to finish: Ongoing Engagement: How do you make sure users get continuous value from your product? First User Experience: What do you want people doing as soon as they start using your product? Onboarding: How can you get people signed up? Marketing/Growth: How do you get users to your product? How do you get them to the front do… (read more)

Jack Dorsey (Co-Founder, CEO at Twitter and Square)
Jack Dorsey: The CEO as Chief Editor – YouTube

There are a million things that we could be doing, but only one or two are important. There’s all these stories from our users, from engineers, from support. We need to choose the one or two (or the intersection of a few) that are really going to drive the success of the product.

David Jackson (Founder, Seeking Alpha)
Why startups should focus on a Job To Be Done rather than “market need” | A Founder’s Notebook

Focusing on a Job To Be Done removes the need to specify who your target customer is, because your target customer is anyone who needs to get this job done.

Seth Godin (Founder at Yoyodyne Entertainment)
Seth’s Blog: “I agree in principle…”

One of the great privileges of not living on the edge of disaster is that we have the ability to act on our principles. The hard part is realizing that it’s never the edge of disaster, and that the long run is always shorter than we imagine.

Seth Godin (Founder at Yoyodyne Entertainment)
Seth’s Blog: On saying “no”

If it doesn’t move you forward, hesitate then walk away. The short run always seems urgent, and a moment where compromise feels appropriate. But in the long run, it’s the good ‘no’s that we remember. On the other hand, there’s an imperative to say “yes.” Say yes and build something that matters.

Seth Godin (Founder at Yoyodyne Entertainment)
Seth’s Blog: Worth thinking about

The key question isn’t, “what’s the answer?” The key question is, “what’s the question?” Is this area worth thinking about? Should I maintain the status quo? Is this good enough? Your focus is the heart of your organization’s future. Your attention is irreplaceable. The real question, then, is, “how much time are you spending deciding what to spend time on?”

Seth Godin (Founder at Yoyodyne Entertainment)
Seth’s Blog: Deconstructing urgent vs. important

Unless you’re a day trader, though, this drama of seeing the news unfold right now is not going to help you make better decisions–in fact, it’s going to make your decisions worse. It’s also unlikely to make you happier. Or smarter. We’re more likely to be afraid of terrorism than long-term atmosphere change, even though it’s clear that the latter kills and injures far more people than the former.The news we consume changes us. Not just the news … (read more)

Sam Gerstenzang (Director of Product at Imgur)
16 product things I learned at Imgur — Medium

Every feature you launch is a feature you’ll need to support with users, infrastructure and development. So launch as few things as possible.

Julie Zhuo (Director of Product Design at Facebook)
Pando: The tax of new

Define a green light criterion, and test a small launch against it. Define a sunset criterion.

Ryan Hoover (Founder at Product Hunt)
Startup Lessons Growing from 10 to 100 | Ryan Hoover

Don’t be so clever. Obvious is usually the better product decision.

Ryan Hoover (Founder at Product Hunt)
Startup Lessons Growing from 10 to 100 | Ryan Hoover

Just because it’s easy to implement doesn’t mean it isn’t costly. Product complexity isn’t just a technical burden but an education hurdle for customers and new hires.

Ryan Hoover (Founder at Product Hunt)
Startup Lessons Growing from 10 to 100 | Ryan Hoover

Have a vision and thesis of the future but don’t overshoot the market, ignoring what people ask for today.

Ryan Hoover (Founder at Product Hunt)
Startup Lessons Growing from 10 to 100 | Ryan Hoover

The last 5% often makes all the difference.

Ryan Hoover (Founder at Product Hunt)
Startup Lessons Growing from 10 to 100 | Ryan Hoover

Engage and include engineering very early in the product design process.

Ryan Hoover (Founder at Product Hunt)
Startup Lessons Growing from 10 to 100 | Ryan Hoover

If you’re saying “no” infrequently, you’re probably making bad product decisions.

Ryan Hoover (Founder at Product Hunt)
Startup Lessons Growing from 10 to 100 | Ryan Hoover

Product design and usability is important for any product. B2B companies don’t get a pass. They serve people too

David Jackson (Founder, Seeking Alpha)
Facebook’s most important advice for product managers | A Founder’s Notebook

Adding features doesn’t add users; focusing on your best features does. Every added feature adds complexity for new users to struggle with. Leaders must pare products down so new users can comprehend them.

David Jackson (Founder, Seeking Alpha)
Is this the most important feature of any app? | A Founder’s Notebook

Performance trumps other features. Still true today. And even more so for anything mobile.

Slava Akhmechet (Founder at RethinkDB)
57 startup lessons

Ask two questions for every product feature. Will people buy because of this feature? Will people not buy because of lack of this feature? No amount of the latter will make up for lack of the former. Don’t build features if the answer to both questions is “no”.

Slava Akhmechet (Founder at RethinkDB)
57 startup lessons

Development speed is everything.

Andy Dunn (CEO of Bonobos)
Get One Thing Right — Medium

Make one thing great. Get one thing right. That earns you the right to go from product one to product two.

Slava Akhmechet (Founder at RethinkDB)
Slava Akhmechet

The most important aspect of product management is categorizing features into three buckets: A gamechanger. People will want to buy your product because of this feature. A showstopper. People won’t buy your product if you’re missing this feature, but adding it won’t generate demand. A distraction. This feature will make no measurable impact on adoption.

David Jackson (Founder, Seeking Alpha)
Polyvore CEO Jess Lee on what makes startups successful | A Founder’s Notebook

First, figure out how to maximize your impact. Second, from that derive extreme focus. Third, thereby delight the user.

Sam Altman (President at Y Combinator)
Startup Playbook

When startups aren’t sure what to do next with their product, or if their product isnt good enough, we send them to go talk to their users. This doesn’t work in every case. It’s definitely true that people would have asked Ford for faster horses but it works surprisingly often. In fact, more generally, when there’s a disagreement about anything in the company, talk to your users.

Fred Wilson (Co-Founder and Partner at Union Square Ventures)
Long Roadmaps – AVC

The best founders have these long roadmaps. If they can stay engaged in their companies, they can realize them over extended periods of time. There are so many reasons why this doesn’t always happen. Founders leave. Companies are sold. But when it all comes together, the result is magical.

What’s the best way to be a good manager?

David Jackson (Founder, Seeking Alpha)
Minimize internal co-ordination costs | A Founder’s Notebook

Minimize internal co-ordination costs

David Jackson (Founder, Seeking Alpha)
What makes a great employee — Cameron Purdy | A Founder’s Notebook

There are three areas where VPs should ask their CEO questions: (i) Have I understood my goals correctly? (ii) Have I understood your input correctly? (iii) Can you help me solve my problems and achieve my goals?

Jeffrey Pfeffer (Professor of Organizational Behavior at Stanford Graduate School of Business)
Hard Facts, Dangerous Half-Truths, and Total Nonsense: Profiting from Evidence-based Management

When a group does creative work, a large body of research shows that the more that authority figures hang around, the more questions they ask, and especially the more feedback they give their people, the less creative the work will be. Why? Because doing creative work entails constant setbacks and failure, and people want to succeed when the boss is watching.

Peter Fenton (General Partner at Benchmark)
Sunday Conversation #1: Peter Fenton, Benchmark Capital – Haywire

My partner, Bob, likes to say, “Be a learn-it-all, not a know-it-all. ” Being a learn-it-all means you have to be very self-effacing around what you do and don’t know, apply critical thinking, and don’t assume that what you’ve been told is right. That trait is a muscle, I think, that you have to continually work on

Ben Horowitz (Co-Founder & Partner @ Andreessen Horowitz)
Practical advice on how to train your managers | A Founder’s Notebook

Management training is the best place to start setting expectations for your management team. Do you expect them to hold regular one-on-one meetings with their employees? Do you expect them to give performance feedback? Do you expect them to train their people? Do you expect them to agree on objectives with their team? If you do, then you’d better tell them

David Jackson (Founder, Seeking Alpha)
Being metrics-driven leads to brutal intellectual honesty | A Founder’s Notebook

Being metrics-driven leads to brutal intellectual honesty. If your success is defined entirely by how well you achieve your goals and metrics, you’ll care only about which arguments are correct and which ideas are the best, irrespective of who they come from. Getting managers to be truly metrics-driven is far harder than it seems. In my experience, it also requires significant coaching.

John Beeson (Principal of Beeson Consulting)
Let Your Team Help You Manage Your Time

A few years ago I was asked to coach an executive I’ll call Tom. I suggested that Tom give thought to four questions: 1. Where could he add the greatest value to the company in his new role? 2. What were the topics and issues he should be intimately involved in — and which could he off-load to staff? 3. How was he spending his time today — and how would he like to be spending his time six months from now in order to devote adequate time to his v… (read more)

Sam Altman (President at Y Combinator)
Startup Playbook

Extreme internal transparency around metrics (and financials) is a good thing to do. For some reason, founders are always really scared of this. But it’s great for keeping the whole company focused on growth.

David Jackson (Founder, Seeking Alpha)
The best career advice you can give in two minutes | A Founder’s Notebook

People are most successful at what they most enjoy. “What you most enjoy” is determined by types of activities, not domain subject matter. The types of activities you enjoy are deeply related to your personality type. So find what you love doing (by thinking about which types of activities best fit your personality type), and go work for a fast-growing company doing those activities

David Jackson (Founder, Seeking Alpha)
Can you reduce the startup CEO role to a single key talent? | A Founder’s Notebook

You can’t do everything well at once, you have to rotate your focus to whichever aspect of your business needs the most attention.

Laszlo Bock (SVP of People Operations for Google)
Work Rules!: Insights from Inside Google That Will Transform How You Live and Lead

1. Be a good coach. 2. Empower the team and do not micromanage. 3. Express interest / concern for team members’ success and personal well-being. 4. Be very productive / results oriented. 5. Be a good communicator — listen and share information. 6. Help the team with career development. 7. Have a clear vision / strategy for the team. 8. Have important technical skills that help advise the team.

Nick Mehta (CEO at Gainsight)
The Second-Timers: Nick Mehta, CEO of Gainsight – “Never Stop Hiring Reps” | SaaStr

You need to focus on product. You need to be sales-oriented. You need to be customer-centric. You need to be all about culture. The business model depends on all functions working in harmony.

Tony Simons (Associate Professor at Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration)
The Integrity Dividend: Leading by the Power of Your Word

Where employees strongly believed their managers followed through on promises and demonstrated the values they preached were substantially more profitable than those whose managers scored average or lower. No other single aspect of manager behavior that we measured had as large an impact on profits

Fred Wilson (Co-Founder and Partner at Union Square Ventures)
How Well Do You Take A Punch? – AVC

The best entrepreneurs do this well. They can take a hit and keep moving forward. And they can rally their teams to do the same thing. That latter point is so important. If the leader is down for the count, the team doesn’t have a chance. But if the leader is up and moving forward, with passion and committment to the goal, then the team will follow.

Jack Welch (former CEO of General Electric)
Jack Welch’s Legacy – The Globalist

Giving people self-confidence is by far the most important thing that I can do. Because then they will act.

Geoffrey James (a contributing editor for Inc.com, is an author of the award-winning blog Sales Source)
The No-Nonsense Business Advice You Need to Hear | Inc.com

For bosses, I think the hardest thing is letting people make their own mistakes. Resisting the desire to intervene. It’s the whole question of whether you are controlling people or coaching people. You can’t do both.

Fred Wilson (Co-Founder and Partner at Union Square Ventures)
Don’t Let A Good Crisis Go To Waste – AVC

When something goes badly in your company, for many the initial instinct is to keep things under wraps as much as possible to avoid freaking everyone out. I would argue that it is better to acknowledge the crisis and use it to your advantage.
Change is hard to bring to an organization and a time of crisis is often a perfect time to make some changes that you have wanted to make for a while. It creates a perfect backdrop and context for doing tha… (read more)

David Jackson (Founder, Seeking Alpha)
How to get stuff done | A Founder’s Notebook

Be clear about what you need to get done. Go for quick wins. A “Quick Win” is a small project you can get done fast which leads to tangible results. Quick wins are crucial because you learn from successes, not from failures. Don’t let small projects become large projects before they launch. Maximize what you can get done on your own. Identify the key person you need to collaborate with, and don’t involve anyone else.

Henry Ward (Founder & CEO at eShares)
eShares 101 — Medium

[at eShares we say… ] You will do a 1-on-1 walk with your manager every 2–3 weeks, with your manager’s manager every 4–6 weeks, and with me every 4–6 months. Go for a walk for 30-40 minutes. Have fun — this is your time. Talk about what’s on your mind. It doesn’t need to be work related.

David Jackson (Founder, Seeking Alpha)
Managers and metrics | A Founder’s Notebook

Owning a metric means taking complete responsibility for success in that metric. In Seeking Alpha, “owning a metric” means taking responsibility for the success of that metric in the medium term. Every manager reports metrics monthly, but we care about medium term success. If you miss a monthly target, the key to medium term success is to take the short term miss seriously. If you explain away your monthly metrics, you’ve thrown away their value … (read more)

David Jackson (Founder, Seeking Alpha)
Managers and metrics | A Founder’s Notebook

It’s the CEO’s responsibility to make sure that every manager personally owns a meaningful metric. Owning a metric means taking complete responsibility for success in that metric. If you justify misses in your metric after the fact, you don’t own the metric — you’re “a best efforts guy”.

Ben Horowitz (Co-Founder & Partner @ Andreessen Horowitz)
The Scale Anticipation Fallacy – Ben’s Blog

Managing at scale is a learned skill rather than a natural ability. Nobody comes out of the womb knowing how to manage a thousand people. Everybody learns at some point

David Jackson (Founder, Seeking Alpha)
Setting clear goals = empowerment | A Founder’s Notebook

When you give people clear goals and metrics, it releases them from being micro-managed at the task level.

David Jackson (Founder, Seeking Alpha)
Setting clear goals = empowerment | A Founder’s Notebook

In many roles, being given responsibility for a measurable goal also allows employees to manage their time as they want to. That can be particularly important for companies that want to create a culture which is attractive to people who care about family time

David Jackson (Founder, Seeking Alpha)
Saying “no” to good ideas | A Founder’s Notebook

The job of a great manager is to focus the company’s limited resources on what’s most impactful. That means saying “no” to good ideas. Saying “no” to bad ideas is easy. It’s the good ideas that can distract and de-focus you

David Jackson (Founder, Seeking Alpha)
A better way to view people | A Founder’s Notebook

Try to place each person in a role where their strengths have the biggest impact and their weaknesses and flaws don’t matter.

Ben Horowitz (Co-Founder & Partner @ Andreessen Horowitz)
Ones and Twos – Ben’s Blog

CEOs that [insist upon super clear goals and strongly prefer not to change goals or direction unless absolutely necessary], despite their love of action, can sometimes slow decision making in a company to a halt.

Fred Wilson (Co-Founder and Partner at Union Square Ventures)
Becoming A Boss – AVC

Many artists stick to making and hire a manager to focus on their business. You can devote yourself totally and completely to the manager role and hire people to lead the making effort. The third way is to keep your hands in both efforts. To be both the maker and the manager. The challenge with that approach is you have two full time jobs and I have not seen many who can do both as well as they need to be done. I cannot and will not recommend one… (read more)

Dr. Dana Ardi (Corporate Anthropology Advisors)
MBA Mondays: Guest Post From Dr. Dana Ardi – AVC

Do away with archaic command-and-control models. Winning workplaces are horizontal, not hierarchical.Everyone who works there feels they’re part of something, and moreover, that it’s the next big thing. They want to be on the cutting-edge of all the people, places and things that technology is going to propel next.

Angela Baldonero (Senior Vice President of People and Client Success @ Return Path)
MBA Mondays: Guest Post From Angela Baldonero – AVC

My advice to you is to set your people free to focus on important, high impact work and solve challenging business problems. That’s how companies will win now.

Joel Spolsky (CEO @ Stack Exchange)
The Management Team – Guest Post From Joel Spolsky – AVC

The “management team” isn’t the “decision making” team. It’s a support function. You may want to call them administration instead of management, which will keep them from getting too big for their britches. Administrators aren’t supposed to make the hard decisions. They don’t know enough. All those super genius computer scientists that you had to recruit from MIT at great expense are supposed to make the hard decisions. That’s why you’re paying t… (read more)

Seth Godin (Founder at Yoyodyne Entertainment)
Seth’s Blog: Loose/tight, thoughts on management

But mostly, we need the insight and judgment and leverage that employees bring us. All of us are smarter than any of us, and adding people can, if we do it right, make us smarter and faster and better at serving our customers. It can’t work, though, if you insist that the employees read your mind. If you have to spend as much time watching and measuring your team as the team spends working, then you might as well just do the work yourself. We fai… (read more)

Seth Godin (Founder at Yoyodyne Entertainment)
Seth’s Blog: Volunteer engagement

The key elements are: An agenda, Peer support, A hierarchy of achievement, Better structures lead to better work. People who care can magnify their impact by building structures that bring in more people who care.

Fred Wilson (Co-Founder and Partner at Union Square Ventures)
Tech Ops As A Metaphor For Building, Running, & Leading A Company – AVC

Blameless post-mortems are the key to learning from a tech ops crisis – fear driven organizations do not scale. Over-reacting to a crisis is likely to make it worse.

David Jackson (Founder, Seeking Alpha)
Two key questions for every manager | A Founder’s Notebook

Managers should ask themselves two simple questions: How many experiments are my team running at any moment? And How rapid is our pace of experimenting?

David Jackson (Founder, Seeking Alpha)
How to ensure that things get done using 3 W’s | A Founder’s Notebook

How to ensure that things get done using 3 W’s. 1. Who (is responsible) 2. What (needs to be done) 3. When (is it due)

Jack Dorsey (Co-Founder, CEO at Twitter and Square)
Jack Dorsey: The CEO as Chief Editor – YouTube

This happens in three ways: tending the team dynamic (adding/removing people), internal and external communications, and minding the money situation (getting money in the bank). That’s it.

David Jackson (Founder, Seeking Alpha)
Mark Pincus’ management advice – make everyone the CEO of something | A Founder’s Notebook

Mark Pincus’ management advice – make everyone the CEO of something. I met Mark for the first time this week. He said he still believes in the principle of “everyone’s a CEO of something”, but only when your company has fewer than 1,000 people.

Tomasz Tunguz (Partner at Redpoint Ventures)
Startup Best Practices 1 – Situational Management

High motivation, low skill: the most typical state for an employee to be in after he has been hired or promoted. He is excited and energetic but unfamiliar with the particulars of the job, or the company, or the culture. Somewhat counterintuitively, the best management technique in this situation is micromanagement… The best way to do this is by frequent check-ins, updates, and feedback. Applied this way, micromanagement provides the employee ver… (read more)

David Jackson (Founder, Seeking Alpha)
How to write a monthly report for your investors or manager | A Founder’s Notebook

In Seeking Alpha, every team leader and “metric owner” writes a monthly report. The Seeking Alpha manager’s monthly report is a Google doc shared with the whole company. It must not exceed one page. It contains four sections: (i) Key Metrics (ii) Candidly, How Successful Was I This Month? (iii) Top Things To Figure Out (iv) Goals For Next Month.

Seth Godin (Founder at Yoyodyne Entertainment)
Seth’s Blog: How to deal with seams

How to deal with seams. a. There is no seam. We’ve finessed the seam so thoroughly, you can’t even tell. This doctor knows everything about the situation as seen by the last doctor, no need to worry about the handoff. You can’t tell where one part of the railing ends and the other begins. Your place in the queue and your records and your status are so clear to the next agent that it won’t matter a bit to you that there was a switch. b. There is a… (read more)

Ben Horowitz (Co-Founder & Partner @ Andreessen Horowitz)
How Andreessen Horowitz Evaluates CEOs – Ben’s Blog

[Determine] whether or not the CEO can effectively run the company. To test this, I like to ask this question: “how easy is it for any given individual contributor to get their job done?”

Jeffrey Minch (Entrepreneur – ‎Littlefield Advisors)
The Management Team – Guest Post From JLM – AVC

Do not make changes, conduct experiments. Nobody can resist an experiment. Experiments that work well have a thousand fathers and mothers. It becomes their idea.