Humans crave for predictability, are you providing it?


Last week, Gazelle moved its office from Allston to downtown Boston. No move is easy – new desk, new neighborhood, new commute, everything to get adapted to. My commute to the new office is now 1 hour 45 minutes each way. I have to drive to the train station for 20 minutes, take the train that takes an hour and then walk to the office. Sounds like an awful lot and it is – 15% of my day is now spend commuting. My previous commute was anywhere from 50 minutes to 1 hour 45 minutes. But I enjoy my new commute a whole lot more even though it takes a whole lot longer. For a very simple reason – predictability! I now know that as long as I get to the train station on time, my commute time is going to be 1 hour 45 minutes (barring any train breakdowns of course). Of this time, the 1 hour of the time on the train is actually spent relaxing – whether it is typing this blog post or taking a nap or reading. I enjoy the 10 minute walk from South Station to the office – free exercise. It is 2 hours that I get for myself everyday. Humans crave predictability and are likely to give up things for it.

The same applies for products. Some choose to

  1. Work in larger companies instead of startups because of the predictable hours and also job safety.
  2. Become full time employees than being consultants because of the predictable income.
  3. Buy products from established vendors than fledging startups because it is a safer bet.
  4. Have caps on pay-as-you-go software packages so that they can have predictable expenses for budgetary purposes.
  5. Buy software packages that have more features than they want now, because it is a safer bet to make now.
  6. Buy extended product warranties because it adds predictability that if anything goes wrong during this time, they do not have to spend money.
  7. Pay bills on the same day every month because it allows one to have a predictable cash flow.

In most cases, products are expected to have predictable outputs to given inputs. So, in our lives as software product managers, adding predictability to our customer’s business or personal lives could be a dimension used to enhance our products. And once you do, make sure that this is pitched to your customers – because they may not tell you that they are looking for more predictability, but I will bet you that unknowingly they do.

Makes sense? Let me know.

2 Responses to Humans crave for predictability, are you providing it?

  1. Kate says:

    really great post. Makes sense.

  2. SA says:

    I completely agree with you. Predictability in product releases makes life simpler and easier both for the company and the customer.

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