From cradle to grave: Product Rose

By Therese Nesseth Tørlen, 2019-07-24

“Dear friends and family, we are gathered here today to say goodbye to a dear friend of ours“

It’s not the most common way to start a meeting, but sometimes it’s required. Humans have over centuries perfectioned rites of passage and other cultural ceremonies.

We’re good at marking life stages like birth, name days, anniversaries, and weddings. We’re good at saying goodbye to loved ones at the end. However, we usually don’t have the same rites of passages for products.

Product life cycle

As a product manager, you should always consider which features or products you can kill.

In the basic product life cycle theory, you often experience slow pick-up, growth pains, resource constraints, and struggles (sometimes referred to as the S curve). You’re constantly reminded to learn, plan, design, implement, itereate, improve.

You’re presented with circle after circle. Learn, iterate, implement and start all over again. However, theory often fails to mention letting a product go. When should the product or feature leave the infinity wheel?

In software, you have a DELETE button you can click, and then your product is gone. Is this how we say goodbye to products?

So why do we spend the time, wearing black and mourning over a product?

As with all things, there’s more to it than meets the eye. Every product or feature has taken time and effort to build and maintain. Several people have been involved in everything from research, optimization, user guides, and more.

“You should respect what has been made, and the people that have spent time and effort on it“

There might be people in your team and organization that spent all their time on this specific product. Not to forget your customers who have used it and learned how it works. Superusers, internal users, external users, users you don’t know about. Some might hate it, some might love it.

The only thing that’s for sure is that you should always learn from what you’ve done.

How we say goodbye


Back to the beginning; “We are gathered here today” - yes we’re having an actual funeral for a product we’re killing.

This provides us with the opprotunity to reflect on the life it had. To discuss the problems it was supposed to solve, to honor those who conceived it and built it (and those who used it). We reflect over key milestones and learnings.

At the end, despite having the code and product killed we keep a memory of the product. For every product we kill, we keep one memory rose, a dark rose.

When a product disappears…

As it is with life, the death of a product should be a normal thing. We should not be afraid of killing products or features. It should be as normal as throwing out worn-out shoes from your closet.

One of the reasons is that it provides space, time and resources to focus on something new.

In Working Group Two it all ends with a rose.

Hey wait… how did it all begin?

To be continued.


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