If the costs are obvious, why is feature bloat prevalent? Poor business decisions are likely the cause: companies are not selling the way their prospects are buying, or their market research wasn’t robust enough, leading to designing the wrong features.Cognitive biases play a large role in these poor business decisions. For instance:Sunk cost fallacy/escalation of commitment: Not removing an old, unused feature because a fortune had been spent on developing it.⚫Endowment effect/loss aversion: Similar to the above; overvaluing a current product because of prior ownership. This leads to being too precious about features and maintaining unnecessarily⚫Availability bias: Acting on a vocal minority’s demands for new features⚫Intervention bias: Product owners add new features to assure themselves of control, or even worse, prove their worth to stakeholders.⚫
In early phases of human existence we faced an onslaught of daily challenges to our survival and ability to reproduce – from predators to natural disasters. Too much information can confuse our brains, leading us to inaction or poor choices that can place us in harm’s way.As a result, our brains evolved to filter information rapidly and focus on what is most immediately essential to our survival and reproduction. We also evolved to remember both threats, so that they could be avoided in the future, and opportunities, so we could easily recall where to find sources of food and shelter.These biological evolutions ensured our capacity to reproduce and survive by saving our brains time and energy when dealing with vast amounts of information. However, these same functions are less useful in our modern reality and cause errors in rational decision-making, known as cognitive biases. “Cognitive biases that ensured our initial survival make it difficult to address complex, long-term challenges that now threaten our existence, like climate change,” says Seyle.