Here’s a framework that might help you decide which project areas to prioritize.
Prioritizing what to build

June 2022

A few people asked me, ‘why focus on recruiting & hiring for Staffparty’s first product’? Especially on the edge of a pernicious economic downturn?.

I’ll explain why I started with recruiting, and also endorse a framework that might help others making a similar decision when starting a new project.

First, I have experience hiring a lot of great people. I’ve learned a lot through mentorship and through trial and error, and hope that I can help other companies build magical hiring experiences. And I’ve been lucky to work with great recruiting teams - I LOVE working with recruiters, and I want them to be customers who I get to talk with and support every day.

Second, recruiting has changed significantly in the past few years. But software hasn’t kept up with these changes. The power dynamics of employment have shifted from companies → employees, and as a byproduct candidates expect and deserve an A+ candidate experience. Many competitive candidates are choosing to accept job offers from the company that treats them best during the recruiting/hiring process. More teams should consider that team culture seeps into the recruiting process, and use that fact to their benefit.

Third, I’m not super concerned about the economic downturn for the Staffparty Offers product. Great companies are always hiring. There are always asterisks next to ‘hiring freeze’ policies. And considering where I plan to navigate Staffparty in the future, building transparency and playfulness into the hiring process is the perfect starting point.

Lastly, one operational requirement of Staffparty products is that we must build a high-value MVP within a month. We built Staffparty offers V1 in about 3 weeks. Speed wins.

Here’s a framework that might help others decide which project areas to prioritize.

Most of us can tell when something is excellent vs mediocre. But the dynamic range between ‘excellent’ and ‘mediocre’ varies widely depending on the topic. The best (safe) drinking water is perhaps 25% better tasting than average (safe) drinking water. Similarly wait staff at a restaurant - the best waiter is perhaps 2x better than the average waiter. Or even your favorite coffee.. 2x better than average. Most mature products and services have a narrow range between average → best.

Zoom to modern software products. The difference between the average and the best software experiences is perhaps 100x. Maybe 1000x in some cases (have you ever tried to book a local flight online in the Philippines or Nepal lately?? ... compare that to United’s booking experience in the US and you’ll see what I mean). This comparison also extends to talent, the best engineers I’ve worked with run circles around average engineers. I once worked with an engineer (Richard!) who replaced a team of 100 engineers on his own, was kind, funny and brilliant. This dynamic range of impact is so rare in other industries and roles.

When I stumble upon experiences, products, or services that have a HUGE dynamic range between average and best, and I see a path to level-up all of those average experiences using some form of common leverage (capital, people, software, media), I get excited. And you should too. Uber elevated the average experience of taxi transport. Email, SMS, Slack, etc dramatically elevated the average experience of mass communication. In 2022, I believe that the difference between the average hiring experience and the best hiring experience is probably 100x.

If you apply this framework in any given day, you’ll probably stumble upon a handful of problem areas to target. That’s where the fun begins.