The problem with this ideas is that you don't get to decide which hard problems matter, but your users will not really know if the feature matters until you have made a real effort at providing the feature. There is a particularly insidious meme going around (usually from the so-called "lean startup" crowd) that building a lame/simple version first to see if people like the feature is how you learn what your users want. The problem with this is that you never know if people don't like the feature because the problem you are solving is not important to them or because your half-assed "iteration" has led them to decide that you don't have the chops to solve the problem so they should look elsewhere. I can't even count the number of times I have seen one company introduce a poorly implemented version of a feature, pull the feature or let it languish (presumably "because our metrics show no one wants it"), and then watch as customers flock to another company that actually solved the hard problem.
Fixing a hard problem does not automatically make your company more valuable, but failing to fix a hard problem will never increase the value of your company.
your half-assed "iteration" has led them to decide that you don't have the chops to solve the problem
While this theory sounds good, it is disproven time and again by initial half-baked versions of sites that then go on to take off. Just check the original launch of YouTube, Digg, facebook.
Also, a HUGE idea coming from lean startup way is to invest very little in marketing until you have a product users like. You don't need to get one million users to tell you a product sucks. Often, 50 would do. Now if you are saying that 50 users writing off your product will doom it for its lifetime, the problem isn't the lean way it's that your market is too small. YouTube guys had very poor reaction to their initial site.
"because our metrics show no one wants it"
They have little idea on how to use metrics. Don't blame lean startup ideas for that.
ie. What lean startup would do is put up a button that looks as good as your best competitor can put up. Then see how many people click on it. What you measure is action until the click, not the engagement after the click to draw conclusions about the demand for that feature. Now if 1000 people are clicking on the link but only few are using it, chances are your product sucks. Take that insight and work on your product. Just one small example.
failing to fix a hard problem will never increase the value of your company.
If you are saying that you have to solve really hard technical problems to increase value of your company, I full disagree. Just look at the web2 companies that took off.
Craigslist did not take off because it solved a huge technical problem. Craigslist also has a lot of value as a company.
> While this theory sounds good, it is disproven time and again by initial half-baked versions of sites that then go on to take off. Just check the original launch of YouTube, Digg, facebook.
It is easy to disprove the theory if you get to cherry-pick your examples. Would you like me to list the thousands of other companies that had a couple of poorly implemented features masquerading as a "beta" that were stomped into dust by others who worked a bit harder to do the job better?