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Solve the boring problems
Are there products or features you're leaving on the table because they're not interesting?
I once consulted with a startup to design their first product. The founders were experts in their field so they knew there were a lot of problems in the space but they wanted a second opinion if the problems they were considering solving were problems their potential customers had.
After I did my research, I presented the pain points I found and we worked to pick the ones we wanted to solve and build out their product roadmap.
There was one particular problem that didn't make it in roadmap: reporting.
I reminded them reporting was complained about the most. Nearly every research participant said reporting was one of the biggest annoyances of their work with most saying the were no good solutions in the market.
There was one problem: it was boring.
The company didn't want to add reporting features because they wanted to create a reputation as a company that solved exciting problems. Reporting didn't make the cut.
For every job, there's parts of our work that are fun and interesting, and parts that are boring.
As software creators, it's easy to get caught up with the excitement of interesting problems. We want to make the fun, interesting parts of our work even more fun and interesting.
The problem is, so does everyone else.
There's plenty of problems that can be solved if we look in the less exciting places of our customer's lives. There's far less competition for the boring stuff. Plus, helping people do the boring stuff frees up more time and energy for the fun stuff.
So next time you're looking for a new product or feature, try solving the boring stuff.
By the way, one of the founders of that startup emailed me years later. Turns out they should have done reporting.
🧠 Psychology Patterns
A concept from psychology to improve your product.
We value things when they cost more.
Commonly applied to pricing, but this concept can be applied to other costs like our time and effort.
Most fight about being cheaper than the competition. Can you raise your prices to look more valuable?
What features or rewards can be withheld until more effort is put in?
Are you doing things the hard way because they're more valuable or does the hard things feel more valuable because they're harder?
🖤 Cool Things
A great book on the theme of this week's newsletter. Effortless examines ways to make hard things in our lives feel effortless. A huge a-ha moment was the idea that North American culture has this idea ingrained in us that the hard way of doing something is better simply because it's harder. The author challenges that idea and asks "Are there easier alternatives you're not considering simply because they're easier?" 🤯
An example of Value Attribution. World renowned concert violinist Joshua Bell played a $3.5 million violin in an arcade outside a subway station. Over a thousand people passed and only seven stopped to listen him play.
📝 Article — Theory of Constraints 101: Applying the Principles of Flow to Knowledge Work by Tiago Forte
A series of articles I've found super interesting. The basic idea is: if we think of knowledge work like the flow in a system, then how can we effectively optimize that system? So many applications to our work as knowledge workers.