The Curse of the White Sunglasses

White SunglassesMandy and I went to the mall this weekend to get her some new maternity clothes. While she browsed the Motherhood store, I took up a strategic perch outside so as not to bump bellies with a bunch of pregnant women. Next store was a sunglasses shop, so I figure why not burn a few minutes?

By the time Mandy got back to me (less than 10 minutes), I had convinced myself that I needed a pair of white sunglasses. Why? I have no idea. Mandy took one look at me and said “You look like an idiot. But if you like them that much…” But I didn’t like them – I was just obsessed with the idea of white sunglasses. The rest of the day, everywhere I went I saw people wearing them, kind of like when you buy a new car and you see everyone on the road who has the same model.

Features for features sake are the white sunglasses of Product Management. How many times have you written a requirement for a feature that you knew wasn’t needed? Everyone has. There are lots of reasons why PM’s do it:

  • Obsessed with a feature (white sunglasses)
  • If the competition has it, so shall I
  • Executive loves this feature, too political to take out
  • Boss loves this feature, is it worth the fight?

None of those excuse the fact that empty features are like white sunglasses – just like me, they make you look like an idiot. Take a look at the list of features and functions going into your next release. Are 100% of them things that you need in order to make a difference to your company and to your customers? How many of them are things you want to have?

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  • Reply Amar Rama April 27, 2008 at 5:13 pm

    This is exactly what I went through recently and so what I wanted to say – thanks for saying it :)

  • Reply Scott Ryder May 1, 2008 at 6:46 pm

    To combat this I ask my team to consider the cost of each feature that gets added to the product and then balance that against the benefits (both hard and soft). The cost of any given feature never goes to zero until it is removed from the product. And we all know that killing a feature can be tricky.

    Another way to think of it is in terms of product surface area. Each time you increase product surface area you just made a lot of peoples’ jobs harder (documentation, qa, services, etc) The cost of your pet feature will be in every release as qa verifies it and engineering has to take it into consideration as they add more functionality.

    Pretty quickly your svelte yacht can become an aircraft carrier and aircraft carriers are slow and hard to turn.


  • Reply jally May 18, 2008 at 8:57 pm

    actually white frame sunglasses are in trend this summer, check
    however i never see men wearing white ones

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