What to do When The Product Sucks


23rd Sep'23
What to do When The Product Sucks | OpenGrowth

Creating a product that isn't bad could seem like a no-brainer to any company in the world. Who, after all, would support creating a useless product? But the truth is that many products are bad. How is it possible that something that is so blatantly significant and widely acknowledged is carried out so rarely?

The query is quite intricate. But in the end, I believe that there are only different ways to say the same thing: it is much, much simpler to create a bad product than a good one. Here are some arguments in favor of it (as well as what you can do about it):


1. You only need one bad customer to ruin your product

Twelve Angry Men is a fantastic movie (Not the Tony Danza version; the Henry Fonda version). It concerns this 12-person panel, 11 of whom enter the jury room certain that the accused is guilty. However, as you know, juries can only reach conclusions unanimously. As a result, a single person can stop a rapid conviction. This will cause the jury to consider the facts, and ultimately persuade each member of the panel that the accused is innocent. It's a fantastic film about one person's ability to uphold justice in the face of prejudice, necessity, and widespread negligence.

Your group is not a jury. Contrarily, anyone can make your product terrible, frequently without anyone else realizing it until it's too late to fix it and incredibly expensive to reverse. Your product is only as good as its weakest component, just like the quickest race car won't move if the gas cap becomes stuck. Consensus must be reached continuously and by all parties that refraining from sucking is worthwhile—not on the specifics. You must accomplish this without security personnel watching from outside the door.

This is what you can do - 

Make it clear to your staff and the rest of the world that staying mediocre is your top priority.You wish to scale your startup. The mere act of not sucking, consistently, across the board, is more crucial than new features, new clients, or even being the best. Every great feature brings in another user, while every terrible feature drives away two.


What to do When The Product Sucks


2. Failure never resulted in dismissal

The adage "Nobody ever got fired for buying IBM" is true. It dates back to a time when IBM was in decline following a protracted period of dominance. There were better goods available, but the danger of picking them outweighed the security of sticking with the tried-and-true. You could always lose your job if something gets badly wrong. This could be because you try something crazy and it doesn't work out, you annoy a key customer, or you blow a big deal. 

However, nobody is ever dismissed for performing below-par work, especially when everyone else does the same thing. Too often, product teams accept that "one-line change" to appease a new client or take the easy route to release functionality. Even if something violates the "soft" condition of "not sucking," nobody is dismissed for simply making it comply with the rigid standards.

This is what you can do -

Always hire slowly and fire quickly. I know everyone emphasizes extraordinary people. But in fact, that norm is very rarely upheld, much like the significance of not sucking. Hold on to it. According to the proverb, "A people hire A people, B people recruit C people." Be an A person, even if it requires enduring far longer than you'd prefer.


3. Sucking more is simpler than sucking less

The moment you step into sucking, your struggles will serve to drag you down more. You must always support that setting after making that one product sacrifice to appease a wild consumer. This is if you lose the patron who depends on it. Then more customers discover it (because why not make it available to everyone if you build it? ), and they each have their own special needs that drag you deeper into the muck. For one consumer, that one random tick expands into a comprehensive settings page for a specific demographic with specialized requirements. 

Supporting certain clients limits how you serve other clients. It impacts how you evolve your data structures over time, inhibits the exchange of specific types of code, etc. Sometimes the only way out of the tar pit is to turn around and go back the way you came. This means losing the client you worked so hard to win in the first place and upsetting all your other clients in the process. It takes a lot of resolve and self-control to avoid the tar pit. That it occurs so infrequently shouldn't surprise you.

This is what you can do -

Never go near the tar pit. And when you become stuck—which will happen frequently despite your best efforts—cut off a part of yourself if required to get unstuck. Even if it means alienating all of your users, it must be done if those people are the incorrect ones to attract the correct ones.


What to do When The Product Sucks


4. There are more ways to be terrible than not terrible

Anyone tasked with developing a feature is instantly faced with a plethora of options. There are innumerable sub-variations to every option, even without the countless technological alternatives for displaying feature X on platform Y. A simple question like "Should this link be a button?" Should the button be next to the other buttons on the left or right? Should clicking it open another page or dialogue box? Should you click Save after using the button, or does it save the information automatically? And it continues. 

Building a product that doesn't suck is like walking a tightrope over La Brea if sucking is like a tar pit. There are a ton of places to stop, but not many of them are on the right path, so you don't realize you've slid until you're knee-deep in the tar.

This is what you can do - 

Make sure everyone knows your definition of refraining from sucking. Draw the lines anyway, even if they are fuzzy, and keep adjusting them. Compared to how quickly you fire your cannons, how you circle your wagons is more crucial.


5. Customers insist on lousy things

Customers consistently and depressingly ask for features that ruin your product. Additionally, if your product enables certain users to manage other users, this is true.  There are qualities they erroneously believe they have but do not, as well as features they genuinely want but no one else does. You can never, ever satisfy even a small percentage of the billions of people on the planet. 

Therefore, choose carefully who you allow to set the direction of your journey. Make sure they lead you to the promised land rather than a tar pit. They'll threaten not to use you again, stop, or speak poorly about you. Some people act on their intentions. But eventually, most people will see that you were right all along. If you were correct in the first place, that is.

This is what you can do -

Refuse advice from the billions of people who don't use and place your trust in the small group of users who do. You are correct or incorrect. If you're right, standing by what you believe will bring about success. If you make a mistake, it is better to fail quickly on your own merits and learn from the experience. This is to follow erroneous advice from someone who never intended to benefit you in the first place.


What to do When The Product Sucks


In conclusion, it's important to recognize that not every comment or critique about your product should be perceived as negative. People tend to express concerns when they are genuinely invested in your product's improvement. It's crucial to remember that complaints signify engagement rather than apathy. Moreover, it's worth acknowledging that not all complaints hold the same weight. For instance, receiving feedback about the absence of feature X is more constructive than hearing about the limitations of feature Y.


Nonetheless, it's worth noting that if your customers develop a strong aversion to your product, it's possible that a more competitive alternative might emerge in the future, posing greater challenges.


OpenGrowth is constantly looking for innovative and trending start-ups in the ecosystem. If you want more information about any module of OpenGrowth Hub, let us know in the comment section below.



A student in more ways than one. Trying to feed her curiosity with news, philosophy, and social commentary.