Everybody loves to innovate. The excitement of envisioning and creating a new product is what drives us in this space. But longevity matters and it will not happen if you do not aim for it. It takes discipline and commitment from the whole organization to be able to evolve a product in a sustainable way.
Here are 4 core principles to follow if your product will survive the test of time.
As the team grows and the feature list of your product gets larger, there will be a natural tendency to chaos. It will be easy to justify doing things in a messier way. Focus is critical, not only on growth but on those qualities that are most important to have.
Identify the core qualities that the drove the creation of the product. Put in place enough steps to ensure alignment to those core principles.
You need to be able to answer why something must change. Every idea needs to pass enough challenges to justify getting done. It might be easy to change the UI or add a new library, but you need to ensure that it should get done.
Test every idea or change to see if they will pass a budget challenge: If you could only afford one, is this it?
Quality is a commitment.
Setting the bar high is the pillar for a quality product. It starts with the feature definition. Each one of them needs to be defined and redefined as many times as needed to ensure that the capabilities and experience it delivers has high standard. Keep the high expectations through the whole development. It is better to take the cost of removing a feature that is not up to par than compromising the product quality.
Technical debt will come back and haunt you.
Be willing to take a step back and test where your product is. Get in the habit to carving out time to pay down technical debt from your innovation efforts. The opposite will faster than expected erode your product and become unmanageable.