Stratelight #2: Anxiety in Product Development - You Might See Yourself in One of These Scenarios

According to Andre Schweighofer there are two driving forces in development which have quite negative aspects. One is fear driven development and the other is anxiety driven development.

Fear is more concrete and immediate while anxiety is more subtile and not so easy to detect as a response to an action.

For both you should be able to detect it and counteract, but let's dig a bit deeper by looking at them separately.

Fear Driven Development

This type manifests itself for developers in the fear of pushing something to Github because you think you might break something, or not changing a method because it's "too messy" and you maybe introduce a bug with changing it.

For Product Managers fear driven development shows if you force a feature in a specific release over the fear that otherwise you won't be able to close a customer.

Anxiety Driven Development

Running After Your Competitors

In this case you are mostly looking at what your competitors release and hunting after them to match their capabilities.

You can never win in this scenario because you will always be one step behind, thus fostering your anxiety even further.


To break out of this you should find your USP and built upon it. Don't care about your competition, do your own research and strengthen your value proposition by what you learn on your own.

Building on something you know first hand allows you to have way deeper knowledge about the needs of your customers and thus strengths of your solution built exactly for them.

"Everything is Critical"

Seeing you team succeed in a stressful situation can be elusive and let you in the believe if you only create that environment all the time your team will be the best it can.

What this results in is that your team doesn't react appropriate in actually stressful situations. They will start estimating with a buffer because "there is always something coming up last minute", you will lose commitment and ultimately everyone gets demotivated.


To avoid this trap, steer the ship. Practice saying no and step back for a moment. Take the time to craft a compelling vision, develop an actionable strategy and break down the strategy into a rolling wave plan.This will allow you to build with focus and determination and a clear goal in mind, which results in less stressful situations.

Feeling Out of Control

When you are anxious about not being in control it seems logical to build processes, guidelines and rules to bring order into chaos.

But creating these processes and structures will lead to more process overhead, slowing down your team and in turn increasing your anxiety levels again.


Trust. Trust your strategy, research and team. Empower your team and let them self organize instead of defining every tiny piece of a feature or workflow. Just make sure to be clear about the vision and general direction.


There are a couple of types how anxiety influences product development and none of them is good in the long run. If you see yourself in one of these scenarios the first step is already done and you can work on how to get out of there and resolve your anxiety to build better products and teams.

🕵️For the full picture, read Anxiety in Product Development by Andre Schweighofer.

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