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Fire 10% of Your Features

When Jack Welch ran General Electric he fired the bottom 10% of his workforce every year. That may be harsh, but as a big company with a lot of moving parts, GE simply couldn’t afford employees with poor performance.

Product owners of large software applications should do the same with features. With multiple teams working towards team-specific goals, it’s all-too-easy to add features without validating them against your product’s main purpose. But each new feature adds a layer of complexity for users, and puts strain on the development team responsible for maintaining it.

Every so often, review your product for superfluous features. Ask yourself how each feature helps users accomplish their primary task. If the explanation you come up with isn’t crystal clear, or the feature only applies to a small fraction of your user base, remove it.

And how you go about removing features is just as important as which features you choose to remove. Never surprise your users with feature removals. It’s important that they feel like they’re in control, even if they may not be, and giving them adequate time to accept and prepare for changes can make all the difference.

Great film-making happens in the editing room, where movie makers cut the film down so that every frame is important to the story. Great writers publish only a fraction of their original draft. Unlike those mediums, software products have the luxury of evolving through an editing process that is never-ending. But, if abused, that luxury can easily become a detriment. Just remember that it’s a two way street.

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