Friday, October 3, 2014

Keep moving forward

When launching a new product, you have already analyzed existing products and planned the best place to operate from. Due to customer base size, you compensate the overall offering by focusing hard on areas other products fail to excel in.

This justifies your claim to the land for now. Other manufacturers have to work much harder to offset your offering in these neglected areas.

But they most likely have already started to plan their move. Their problem is your strength in area, so you've got some time. But the last thing you want to be doing is to sit down and admire the scenery.

First and foremost, you need to move forward.

If you're not moving forward, you're staying still; but since the competition will be always moving forward, it makes the time spent on sitting still, look like moving backwards from the consumer perspective.

What causes a company to stay still? Most of the time it's caused by obscure company targets, but the biggest threat usually comes from within. We're all sources of potential disaster. Everybody might know that there's a need to sustain the movement.

But instead, somebody gets an idea.

Most of the time, ideas are harmless, abundant and pop up everywhere. Everyone has them and there's always good ones in the lot. The problem with ideas is usually in both what affected to the idea creation and how we treat that idea.

How an idea is processed.

The most common type of an idea is a borrowed one. And the cheapest too, in many ways. It's easy to take something that already exist and swallow it as a whole. Hope that nobody notices. However, if everything is copied from existing products, there's no way they fit together and form an enjoyable product to use. At least don't market it as such.

To make it easy for you in a long term, take the idea apart, see what's inside that makes the idea valuable (how does the idea create value with the end user). Grab that, and move on.

From an idea, salvage only what you can carry. Don't carry a car wreck if you only need a spare fuse.

By doing that, the idea is easier to fit to everything around it, so that you don't fit your product into the new idea you had/found/borrowed. That's insane amount of work. You don't want to do that when you need to advance.

Treat all ideas as means to expand towards a new areas, not to move your whole camp. Remember to strip ideas down, so you don't have to deal with any of that dead weight. Then, look at those areas (cloud storage as an example) and see how you can replicate the end result and value that competing products create, but do it from your direction. Do it with your tools and ways.

It's much easier for you, and it will reinforce and harden your existing product. The idea will work together with other ideas.

This is what moving forward means. Moving without risking your foothold. Because the direction you approach an area, is on the opposite side from the competition perspective, and it will be difficult for them to come knocking hard on your doorstep. Creating value is not patented. Creating it with their way usually is.

Having your own direction to look at things, solve problems and empower user, builds on top of your existing strength. You appear moving without leaving the place you struck down your flag. And the longer you keep doing this, the deeper to the ground the pole goes.


Sometimes things don't work out like planned. An idea slips past. It doesn't get properly dissected and analyzed. If you end up integrating the unprocessed idea into your product, you'll be adding all that dead weight of the car wreck as well.

Even if you just needed that spare fuse.

It can sometimes be intentional. It can be driven by someone who thinks the car wreck plays an important role in the user experience. Or that the user experience is not relevant, and the wreck is welcomed to stay. Horrible things are set in motion. It usually starts with these words.

"Taking just what you need is not enough"

It's no joke folks. Fear it like the Plague. When you hear those words, things are about to take an irreversible turn to the fiery purgatory. A new entry will be written in the book of atrocities, under the Eternal torment chapter.

The idea has become more important than reaching the value it represents.

And the idea, at the end, will consume you, your product and everyone else working with it. I tried to make as accurate image as I could, of an unprocessed idea gone bad, so you can avoid it when you see it.


Still, hyperbole aside. Process your ideas, treat them as ways to enter new areas from your direction and stop integrating dead weight.

Carrying dead weight is stupid.

What makes things unsustainable is the complexity and unnecessary amount of code it introduces. It will be there forever and you just have to deal with it. Maintain it, fix it and love it.

Unconditionally. Look at the previous picture. Make piece with it and give it a kiss.

If you're a developer working with that idea, or next to it, be afraid. Be very very afraid. You're not going to be moving anytime soon.

And when you finally nudge into motion, with all that weight you've picked up and maintained over the years, your product will be extremely complicated. It had to overcome unnecessary software complexity, horrible legacy, and also bypass and re-route countless user flows to hide it all. For what?

Good luck quickly entering any new areas or responding to business opportunities. Even a team of seasoned software exorcists will not be able to mop up that stuff anymore.

Finally, after a hard lifetime of slowly pushing a software behemoth like that forward, you'll probably ask yourself, and your thousands of in-house brethren: Why didn't we just take what we needed?

Something as simple as a spare fuse, can make a difference between moving forward or staying still.

Make sure that everybody in your company understands that.

Thanks for reading and see you in the next post. In the meantime, agree or disagree, debate or shout. Bring it on and spread the word.

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