Monthly Archives: November 2012

How to deal with procrastination

The importance of your tasks is determined by the order in which you undertake them.

So rather than trying to forcefully change the order in which you do tasks to fulfill a pre-determined to-do list, which was created with less information than current, one should just think clearly and manage priorities as they develop.

This ensures that you get stuff done that is important today and not that which was thought to be important yesterday.

It also takes away the overhead of keeping track of a list of things that are supposed to be important, a list of things that you constantly need to keep ticking and updating.

So if you think writing a blog post is important to you, don’t put it on a to-do list, put it in action.

This is not an action-over-ideas principle, its just a simple way to lead a more lean lifestyle.


The problem with problem solving

Don’t rush to the most promising solution. Don’t try to guess the trend.

The problem with problem solving isn’t the solving part, it’s the problem part.

The mistake that most product builders make is that they don’t know what success for their product looks like.

Don’t make that classic mistake.

If you have stared at the problem for long enough, you would know exactly what an elegant solution for it should be. Make that investment before starting out.

Once you do that, you will have immense perspective. It might look like intuition to outsiders. They might even mistaken it for deep product sense. But what it really means is you have deep problem sense.

That sense, I believe is the most important ingredient to building something that people want.


How to build something that people want

There are different ways to define a successful product.

One with most the number of users, one with most happy users, with most usage, with most user interactions and so on. Here’s the funny thing – most product builders I believe, are not aware of what success for their product is. They constantly strive to increase the metric which is the most talked about in media and popular circles.

If the product is revenue generating then this is far easier, at least it should be. Just measure how much revenue you generated and you would know if you are doing better or worse off as compared to your previous performances/ competitors. Its far more diffcult to measure product performance if your product lives under layers of structural abstractions from the real market.

In such cases, defining product success is a challenge and opportunity in itself. I am sure this is a huge topic in itself and there are plenty of things that one can learn by simply being extremely empathetic to their users. I haven’t had any systematic approach to defining product success except my own intuition, which of course doesn’t help here, so I won’t delve into it further here.

However, I believe that if one can manage to avoid the top two or three classic mistakes that happen in new product development, they can build a reasonably aligned and relevant product for their audiences.

So what are those mistakes, the top one is to think about the solution before thinking hard about the problem itself. Think about this for a moment. How many times have you just gone crazy with coming up with an awesome, innovative solution to a problem that you think exists. I have at least on numerous occassions.

The problem with getting ahead of ourselves in finding a solution is not only that we end with a sub optimal solution but also that we tend to put our own unreal perceptions on the problem at hand. Its like building a better rain prediction software for farmers in developing countries. Not only are you building a solution that only tangentially even touches the real problem, but because of your commitment to this solution, you tend to think that the problem for these farmers is they don’t know how much and when its going to rain.



Patience, persistence and the confusion around it



I have seen a lot of people giving advice to young folks to be patient. I bet what they really mean is be persistent. It changed my perspective after understanding the subtle difference in these two approaches.

Being patient implies waiting for external factors to change. It means not making a ruckus when things aren’t working as you want them to.

Persistence is literally the opposite.

It means keep going even when things are not working your way. It means believing in your idea and not waiting for external approvals to factor in, for you to make important decisions. It means to keep going with those decisions through the dark, because deep inside you know that you are doing the right things and your intuition is guiding you.

Being patient is easy, anyone could do it by taming their mind.

Being persistent towards a goal is hard, it is the secret sauce of the winners.