Product growth relies on the right balance between optimization and innovation

Andy Johns wrote a 4-part series on product growth that is worth digging into. In Part 1: A Single-Minded Perspective on Growth he points out the trap many product companies fall into:

The point I’m making is that today’s startups very quickly fall into the optimization trap where they think future growth will largely come from optimizing their existing product. The better approach is finding the right balance between optimization and innovation since both methods can produce future growth.

This is why I am still, after all these years, such a big fan of the Kano model. It forces teams to think about these two questions separately: (1) what can we do to make our existing product better (optimization), and (2) what can we add to or change about our product to create unexpected value for customers (innovation).