• Causal Engines

Narrow your focus, get better results

In 2018, Frank Slootman, CEO of Snowflake, said:

The fastest way to move a dial is to narrow the focus. People naturally resist focus because they can’t decide what is important. Therein lies a problem: people can typically tell you after some deliberation what their top three priorities are, but they struggle to decide on just one. They may also be incorrect about their priorities, so there is potential for misallocation of resources. What is too much and what is too little focus? Do you ever even discuss this? Most teams are not focused enough. I rarely encountered a team that employed too narrow an aperture. It goes against our human grain. People like to boil oceans. Just knowing that can be to your advantage.”

Frank hit the nail on the head. Many organizations fail to be purposeful with their strategy and products.

SaaS companies often fall victim to this dilemma. It is increasingly common to see SaaS firms juggling too many offerings, implementing “me-too” features, and ultimately trying to satisfy too many customers. While this may seem to provide more value to a wider audience, it often creates complexity and higher churn. Instead, narrowing the focus can provide clarity.

One customer archetype served well consistently can have marvelous results. The ability to segment your prospective customer base will lead to a deeper understanding of their individual needs, and provide the framework to create a tailored and sticky solution. This is how lifelong customers are made.

Organizations that do it all, often end up doing nothing and become mediocre at everything. Avoid searching a mile wide and an inch deep.

When evaluating your current product line, ask simple questions. Who does my product serve within an organization? Which organizations are these? What use-case do I tackle? Do I tackle too many things? Does my product have too many distractions?

Is my product easy to use for that particular customer? How much instruction is required for the customer to become adept with the product? What makes my product so effective for this customer?

The goal is to simplify and be lean. Invest in the most powerful features. Increase your resources on the priority.

Being able to say “no” to proposals that do not have a straight-line relationship with your mission is essential. Do fewer things that will translate into the greatest customer success.

Clarify your product roadmap and watch the results come.

- We would like to thank Frank’s comments on LinkedIn for his inspiration.

This article was a collaboration between Archit Bhise and Sebastian Duluc.