Pruning the Decision Tree
A great post by Marc Randolph got me thinking. He tackles the question of why Netflix made the moves they made recently. Specifically, why did they spin off their DVD option as a company called Qwixter? The answer: focus.
What separates successful ventures from failures is choosing to do the right things. What separates great successes from merely good ones is choosing not to do the wrong things.
When faced with a question about whether to add a feature, the decision often revolves around whether customers will like it. This is a good first question, but stopping there leads to sub-optimal results. It is important to ask the next question: What can we not do by doing this? Resources are limited. For each feature that goes into a product, something else(quality, time, other features) comes out. If that is forgotten, the product will end up with too many features that are good but not great and a product that feels the same.
Shipping a great product then is about the decisions about what features not to implement and what bugs not to fix. Netflix demonstrates what it looks like to take this very seriously. They are jettisoning what is a popular part of their company so they can focus on what they think is the future. Only time will tell if they chose the right strategy, but one has to commend them for making a clear choice.