Saturday, August 11, 2012

How We Change The Stars

I’ve been rethinking how we make a great product.

I've reflected on things I've done well in my career as a founder/executive or as part of an investment team:

(insert brag)

But what’s given me pause is what I haven't experienced:

(insert definition of product changing the future)

Even though I've always had leading edge ideas, access to funds and world-class resources, I've never experienced a great product built by people I personally know. This includes people I know in other ventures if I were honest. 

All the great digital products I use passionately are built by people I don't know:

“Unknown Artists.”

* * *

The ideas we've had could always be proven. I see others proving it eventually.

It has led me to believe, most of us have had the wrong mindset to make a great product.

What's been missing is a culture for making something great. 

This equals making what our peers think “cannot be done.”

* * *

Listening to doubters has one fundamental flaw. Doubt is based on what “has been.”  

But we don’t want to be a “has been.” We want to create a new  future.

When I read Steve Job's bio, everything he set out to build was labelled "can't be done."

Glass staircase - "can't be done." 

Advisers, pros and experts are often shaped by what they know, but not by what they don't know to challenge a new frontier.

Even after we achieve unexpected success,  even  after doing  “the impossible,” the culture is still too frequently...not being able to go past where we  protect what we have.

The conversation is regularly "you can do this (efficiently)"..."this platform will allow you to"…"given where we are now” ... "realistically for execution"…or my favorite “when we get funding… (as if it will guarantee a big difference).”

This keeps us regular. 

Right away, we are stuck inside the box, circling within norms, copying current trends or  knowledge like it was some easy way out. But it never was. Who among the millions found an easy way out?  

We do non-resistant things for the purpose of survival but it is a state that keeps one in only a state of survival.  

Even the term MVP (Minimum Viable Product) is all about the status quo. It's set up for people in the status quo.  The focus is on minimal effort with tools today available to get something “done.” 

Peer pressure skews towards what can be done in the current context. It focuses on what exists and  what is acceptable. Millions will do it.  So how does this stand out or change anything? 

* * * 

Great ventures don't think in terms of MVP (not that I've seen). They go for it.

Can you even imagine George Martin telling the Beatles to do the minimum for a viable product? Pioneers who break boundaries do far more than minimum from the get-go. 

Too often we do what "can be done." We are surrounded by people with a mindset influenced by clients/peers (who don't innovate). We are surrounded by a repetitive language of...status quo. 

We forget "innovation."

* * *

Innovation is how we change the stars.

Innovation IS what “can’t be done.”

Most talented people do what can be done. But the great ones who make history, who produce what changes the future, do what can’t be done.

Stars can only be seen by turning off the lights shining on everything else 

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