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The reason your product failed series


I've read dozens of books on the topic of investing. Some of them were highly theoretical, others - full of practical advice, and most - recollections of "battle stories" of what once worked for a particular investor.

My general satisfaction with the books on investment was low until I stumbled upon "The Most Important Thing: Uncommon Sense for the Thoughtful Investor" by Howard Marks. It's not even the content that impressed me first, but how the book was structured. Each chapter was titled "the most important thing is" and then it was a different thing every time. I found this not only funny and clever but also perfectly capturing our, human psychological nature.

As people, we tend to seek simple answers. Our brains often cannot handle the complexity existing in the world we've built and so we resort to simplification. We want to find that one thing, one reason or one explanation. Once we get it and it fits our internal model of the world we stop looking and move on. In most cases, it's a good approach. In most everyday situations we don't have time to dwell on one subject for long as there are literally hundreds of things that require our attention. It's only when we need to really understand something that happened to learn from it and get better results doing something similar in the future.

The reason your product failed

Products fail all the time. It's actually the norm for a new product to fail rather than to succeed. Product managers, those of us who have been in the business for a while, have the experience of our products failing. Sometimes, we fail together with our products - changing companies or even leaving the profession altogether. Other times we are allowed to stay, analyse why our product failed and learn from it.

In this series, I want to describe the most common reasons products fail, offer some tips on how to analyse and find the reason your product failed and also how to learn from the failure to increase your chances of success in the future.

And like with the book above, every post will be dedicated to a different reason even though there's never just one reason a product fails.

Reasons your product failed

So what are the most common reasons products fail? Here is a non-exhaustive list:
  • Lack of focus
  • Lack of problem worth solving
  • Wrong solution
  • Insufficient marketing
  • You run out of time or money
  • Dysfunctional culture
  • You can't scale it

In the coming weeks, we'll review each of these reasons in detail, learn to identify them in your organisation and discuss strategies to either mitigate those risk factors or get better at not repeating them.

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