More Adventures in Product Development

The new-ness of a project is a few months past, and you are slogging through the minute details of a graphical user interface, while tracking down an obscure bug that causes random crashes every few hours, on top of struggling with a recalcitrant operating system API. Suddenly you are struck with an AHA! moment and are blessed with an idea for a totally cool new product, technically sweet, completely “diggable”, likely to generate truckloads of cash.

Let’s put the current project on hold for a few days. We can do a quick feasibility analysis, maybe hack together a proof-of-concept. The old project will keep– after all, it’s only for a few days. You reason that the break will actually stimulate your productivity and allow you to return to the old product rejuvenated and energized.

Resist temptation, old friend! Time-to-market is critical. But you keep thinking about the new shiny idea. In the back of your mind you sketch out control layouts, even muse over ad copy. If you give into impulse and start on new before finishing the old, or worse yet work on both projects in parallel, what is to prevent you from having an even newer idea in three weeks and experiencing the same dilemma yet again?

Have I done this? Guilty, guilty! But I’m getting better discipline with more experience. What helps for me is to write out new ideas in a notebook, immediately when inspiration strikes, with the bold header “PRODUCT IDEA“. Now that the idea is saved on paper (and for me, the physicality of writing on paper is important here– typing won’t do) the cool product-to-be isn’t rattling around inside my brain as a distraction and loss of morale. In a sense I’ve given my brain permission to stop obsessing over the exciting new and resume the harder work of finishing an existing task. Starting a new project is a reward for finishing something,… anything. And writing down ideas mean the product isn’t forgotten, just saved until we can get to it.

Product ideas are cheap, penny a gross. Finished, timely projects are gold. Remember I said to write down new product inspirations immediately? I count one hundred sixteen separate new product ideas since January 2000. Running out of ideas is unlikely; running out of completions is assured.

Previously: Adventures in Product Development

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