How to Break Free of the Feature Factory by John Cutler
In the closing talk of this year’s MTP Engage Hamburg, John Cutler looks at why his Medium post 12 Signs You Are Working in a Feature Factory touched a nerve for so many people in product development.
There’s widespread tension in our industry, John says. While everyone talks about “outcomes over output” and says they strive for “real impact” with their craft, in our day-to-day work many of us simply give all our priorities and attention to shipping features.
Why is this? Are we powerless to do anything about it?
John had umpteen conversations with product managers after the publication of his initial article, and he came to the conclusion that at its core the issue is about trust (or the lack of it). we may all love data, he says, but it’s not a silver bullet and it will not solve any issue of trust inside a company.
John therefore emphasizes the importance of psychological safety as a prerequisite to empower outcome-driven, mission-based teams. He adds that to work this way will usually also require an alternative way of funding and – again – a substantial level of trust in the team and its members.
Before finishing his talk, John encourages us to trust in change that comes from the bottom up. He says we have the power to keep pushing for outcomes and to change the dialogue around us, even if it is just one conversation at a time.
As you’d expect if you’ve ever read any of John’s blog posts, his presentation is full of smart and provocative statements that challenge you to think carefully and beyond the obvious.