Chasing rabbits

If you chase two rabbits, both will escape.

You can’t run in two directions at once, and you have no way of controlling where the rabbits are going to run next. You can maybe influence the rabbits by setting up boundaries; you can maybe predict the rabbits by knowing the terrain, but you can never fully forsee how or where the rabbits will end up fleeing.

Many products fail or run into troubles when they try to do too much at once, try to grow in too many different directions or try to keep too many options open. Too many markets, too many users, too many options. Hedging your strategy is sometimes clever, but the problem is too much hedging and too many plan B’s not only increases your complexity overhead but creates noise and distraction – whether you’re prioritising user stories or defining corporate strategy.

The most successful startups and products in recent years do one thing, but do it really well. Twitter is the best micro-blogging platform. Foursquare lets you share your location with your friends. Evernote lets you take and organise notes. What are you good at? Where should you focus?

When you try to move forward with the most risk-averse strategy, you’ll end up moving nowhere. The project with the least likelihood of failure is probably the most likely to fail.

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