What to do When Your Product Gets Stuck

by Sean Boyce
new product features

Have you developed your product to or beyond the MVP phase?  Have you been enjoying at least some success, but are now unsure of where to take the product from here?  I meet a lot of people that are stuck in a similar situation.  They’ve made significant progress and their plan is working, but now that they are on the other side of the momentum swing they become timid as to not upset what they’ve accomplished.  Ironically, it’s this kind of a negative reaction to achieving goals that can prohibit you from continuing to achieve them in the future.  It takes an incredible amount of energy and focus to get a product off the ground, but once it’s moving you can’t stop.  This is the most important time to keep you foot on the gas.  You need to acknowledge the gain and move forward.  Here is what you can do to get unstuck and start moving forward again.

Listen to your users

After-all, your users are who you built the product for right?  I like to follow the lean development methodology whenever I can and being lean dictates that new directions are chosen based on momentum.  What do you users want next?  All you have to do is ask them.  In fact, most users will respond quite positively when being asked to participate in this process.  Everyone wants to be part of something that is growing and successful.  Being asked for your input on new product features can be flattering.  

There’s a good chance your users have already given you the feedback you need.  Your customer service team has likely been given feedback to the extent of “Can the product do this?” or “When will this feature be available?”.  You should be documenting these conversations.  Even in the beginning when you are scrambling to get your MVP ready.  Now is the time in your project when documenting that feedback will pay off.  If you didn’t have the time to do it previously, categorize the feedback and review it.  How many unique features have been requested?  How many times has the same feature been requested by multiple clients?  This is a great way to begin the prioritization process to figure out what new product features to build next.

Listen to your team

That’s right, your team.  Remember them?  The crew that designed and built the product that is now responsible for the success you share.  It can be easy to forget, but few know a product better than those that built it.  This isn’t always smooth sailing because the engineers may have a bias around the amount of heavy lifting required to pump out new features (especially if they are already overworked).  However, the optimistic ones in the bunch will show flashes of brilliance with their vision.  You may need to pay extra close attention because they may feel like they’re stepping outside their comfort zone a bit, and as such be more reserved about expressing their opinions.  It doesn’t change the fact that some of the best ideas for new product features will come from your designers and engineers.  You just have to listen to them.  

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Start the process over again

The last thing a client wants to hear right after they’ve seemingly finished and arguably intense process is to start over again, but that’s exactly what I’m telling you.  It worked for you the first time didn’t it?  At NxtStep we follow our proprietary Discovery Process.  NxtStep Discovery includes three steps and you can choose to start in any of the three, but you must justify your choice.  If you can’t, you move back a step until you can either justify the placement or you’re at the beginning.  This framework has served countless clients of ours quite well over the years and has always managed to unstick a stuck product.  If you’re unsure what new product features should be built next start your process over again.  The way forward will reveal itself just like it did the first time.

If you’d like to learn more about product management or talk more about the services I offer as a product management consultant please feel free to reach out to me at hello@nxtstep.io.  Keep disrupting.

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