Why TOMS failed, and how MECE can save you!

TOMS failed because they created the wrong solution, then waited too long before testing if it worked

In this post, I’ll outline how we’re using the MECE framework to avoid the TOMS fate by

  1. Digging deeper using MECE in top-down & bottom-up approaches
  2. Testing our business assumptions like are these shoes making an impact? to help us ensure we’re building something valuable

What’s MECE and How is it Useful?

MECE is a popular problem-solving framework used to break down large & complex problems into individual solvable tasks. For example, if our product has a 20% drop in Monthly Active Users, I can use MECE to drill down into each problem and uncover the highest value solution to implement.

Thanks to Kasey Kaplan for suggesting & Diego Granadas for the info

How can I use MECE if I don’t yet have a product?

MECE is simply good for problem-solving, so let’s take a similar approach to the above and use it with the problem roadmap built out in the previous blog post, available here.

MECE Top-Down Approach

The Top-Down starts with the company vision, goals, outcomes, and customer problems in mind. You can follow this process:

Palate.so’s MECE Tree, I’ll post the final tree here

MECE Bottom-Up Approach

Bernard Roth, a Stanford design veteran shared a design-thinking tool that helps me build MECE from the bottom up, especially when I’m stuck or a little bored. Credit to the Product Talk newsletter which is where I saw this first.

Testing Business Hypotheses

Once you’ve identified the solution, it’s time to narrow in on the test cases you can run to validate whether the idea’s solving the problem and delivering value to the users.

  1. Business Risk: will this be a viable business? How will we make money?



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Sam Polgar

Sam Polgar

Writing for clarity, thought and learning