Work Multipliers: The Hidden Productivity Killers

Better Stack Team
Updated on August 31, 2023


How the seemingly harmless "hey, could you please add this one simple feature" can crush your team's delivery speed forever.

Engineers and PMs are used to judging the typical cost-benefit ratio of a new feature: Simply weigh the potential benefit against the man-days needed to put the feature in place, prioritize the list, and start from the top. Seems right? Not quite.

Engineers often overlook how adding a feature impacts all future changes from that point on. Here's the truth:

Not all features are created equal. Some can literally tank your future productivity.

"All of our competitors have dark mode, let's add it!"

"Let's translate our dashboard into other languages to break into European markets. How hard can it be?"

"Should we launch the responsive web app as a hybrid iOS app as well?"

"Don't forget about Android!"

"Could we convert parts of the web app into an Electron desktop app?"

These suggestions sound harmless until you realize that every single feature added from that point on needs to accommodate all versions of your app.

Light & dark, web & iOS & Android & Electron, English & German... that's 16 versions of the same page right there.

Since it's not practical to check all page versions when adding a new feature, you'll end up with a user experience prone to errors and inconsistency, as well as a significant slowdown in development speed.

So the next time you're about to implement a feature, pause and ask yourself: could this be a work multiplier? Is it really worth it?

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