“For Tech sake! We have a problem”
We’ve all been there: someone comes to you first thing on a Monday morning with that eager “I have a dream” look on their face and says “I want to us to build <insert thing competitor has done here>”. Someone has been surfing the net, seen something and all of a sudden its solution mode: activate! “Let’s be agile and get it out there now!” This is a common misconception on what growing a product should be like.
This isn’t me having a go at people who get inspired by tech. Who can blame anyone for being in solution mode as soon as they are inspired? The solutions that inspire us the most tend to do such a good job that it is really hard to see that there was a problem in the first place. I don’t mean we should question every tech solution that we face, of course there are those inevitable projects we all have to do to reduce a technology debt or to make sure you/we are providing an experience that is expected. What I am talking about here is tech for tech sake.
Did Pixar sit up one day and say “Yo! We’ve got a really sweet way to show wrinkles on a face…lets make UP!” ? Did the The New York times roll in and say “We got a bunch of great parallax effects, lets build some more, don’t worry we will fill it with any old content and it will look good” ? Of course not! In my opinion, great solutions come from knowing what you want to do, nothing about tech. I like to work with problems and opportunities; tech is just the thing we use to enable that goal. That’s why we call it technology.
So back to our Monday morning, how can we keep the enthusiasm going without diving into solution mode? There isn’t a silver bullet but there is a mindset I like to have and that is to question everything, what are we trying to do here? What is the goal? Why are we here? Why would I use this? Before this blog goes into life, the universe, and everything this is my one main point: find your problem or opportunity. This is how the really successful products become game changers, that is what should excite you and if you position it right, your stakeholders to.
Try only having problems/solutions in your roadmap. It’s perfectly fine to have problems without solutions in a roadmap as long as you commit to finding the solution, to quote the late Terry Pratchett “To know your demon, first you’ve got to know his name”, knowing there is something to solve is half the battle. Once you know what you want to do, the tech stuff follows. Tech solutions without a problem is just stuff, and the world is full of enough stuff.