I was once introduced to a quote from French philosopher Paul Virilio, which says:
When you invent the ship, you also invent the shipwreck; when you invent the plane you also invent the plane crash; and when you invent electricity, you invent electrocution… Every technology carries its own negativity, which is invented at the same time as technical progress.
This got me thinking about the challenges we face as product managers who are driven to keep producing new value from our products.
What really happens when we introduce new features?
Effectively, every new thing that is created, whether it is a technology or a new product feature, as at the time of introduction, brought with it a set of downsides that never existed before.
In Virilio’s case, inventing ships brings with it the ability to travel across great expanses of water to discover new places, however, at the same time it also introduced the new concept of hundreds of sailors being drowned at sea.
In a product sense:
With every change the role of a product team is to understand what it is that we’re actually introducing and to understand all sides of the potential side effects, which we do by: