IS YOUR IDEA READY TO BECOME SOFTWARE?

Newsletter sent on Monday, May 31, 2021


When you envision a product idea for a long time, it’s natural to want to start building it. Failing to answer some critical questions first, however, will result in a total loss of control over the scope and the outcome.

“How hard can it be to take an idea and make a small piece of software out of it? It doesn’t even have to be perfect in the beginning; let’s just get started ASAP.” I hear this question in this or another form too often to ignore its hidden danger: naïve idea, that you can be vague with the goal by allowing some slack in quality.

Do a simple sanity check

Let’s call this small piece of software that you want to be made – the first iteration. And so:

  • How do you know when the first iteration is over?
  • When it’s over, what are you going to do with the outcome?

Consider those two questions as a litmus test.

If you don’t have straight answers to them – which you are also happy to share with the team – most likely, you’re standing in front of what software engineers sometimes call “a rabbit hole”. Your journey in there may seem fun and helpful initially, but it will end up as a frustrating and fruitless experience. Don’t do that.

A better way

Don’t blame yourself, though, if the situation I’m describing seems too familiar. Humans are susceptible to all sorts of biases, and being optimistic and eager to get the ball rolling is generally a very positive trait.

Ask yourself, though, what is it that you need most at this point.

  • Is it to see if something can be done and learn what obstacles we meet along the way (Proof of Concept)?
  • Is it to explain your idea as a whole to potential partners or buyers (Prototype or Visiontype)?
  • Is it to validate critical assumptions with the users (Minimum Viable Product)?
  • Is it to build a full-blown scalable experience for as many users as possible (Scaleup)?

Or is it something else?

Without knowing this, your idea may be flawless, but it will be distorted by inadequate execution. And the contrary, being precise on the iteration’s goal and timely communicating it to the team will go a long way. It will increase your ability to plan ahead and give the development team the necessary signals for choosing an optimal process, technique, and tools for delivering your brain baby into the world of software.

Cheers,

Mike

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