Last weekend I got to spend some time in a mini product sprint/hackathon with a friend of mine. We have built small apps together in the past and challenged ourselves to build an app in 2 four-hour work sessions. Last Saturday was the first and it felt good to be back in the product building trenches. A lot of my work is on more of the strategic level or on larger projects where you aren't really doing any building yourself. It's refreshing to switch contexts. It reminds me of a passage from Systemantics:
There is a man in our neighborhood who is building a boat in his back yard... He works from plans drawn up by himself. Nevertheless, he is demonstrably building a boat and can be called, in some real sense, a boat-builder.
Now if you go down to Hampton Roads or any other great shipyard and look around for a ship-builder, you will be disappointed. You will find in abundance welders, carpenters, foremen, engineers, and many other specialists, but no ship-builders. True, the company executives may call themselves ship-builders, but if you observe them at their work, you will see that it really consists of writing contracts, planning budgets, and other administrative activities. Clearly, they are not in any concrete sense building ships. In cold fact, a SYSTEM is building ships, and the SYSTEM is the shipbuilder. In brief: PEOPLE IN SYSTEMS DO NOT DO WHAT THE SYSTEM SAYS THEY ARE DOING.
The latest post What Is A Product covers a bit of how I describe products and how I think about the value they create. It can go off on a couple tangents, but check it out for yourself.
Who defines the value that our product creates? Usually a product has an intended way of creating value for customers through a specific set of features, however it’s up to potential users to determine how they choose to realize that value. We may think we are offering entertainment and nostalgia with our app Pokémon GO, but without realizing it we also offer people a sense of affiliation and belonging. As a product team, we can only create value potentiality.
I want to try to get into the habit of including a couple interesting links as well each time I send out a note.
This first one is a series of posts on a new site called Product-Led, consisting of contributions from a variety of product industry experts. This first one is really good and I've yet to explore the rest of the posts but I have a few saved to my Instapaper already.
This next post is more of a personal growth post that I found extremely compelling. It's hard to summarize, but I know I'll be reading over it a few times to extract more from it.
Meeting magicians is the first step to becoming one – when you are attempting to learn implicit knowledge that by definition you don’t understand, it is important to have a bunch of examples in front of you to feed your brain’s pattern-recognition systems. This will start to change your worldview without the controlling ‘you’ explicitly approving or denying every new belief or framework.
That's all for this time. Have anything on your mind? Feedback on the latest post? Just reply to this email, I would love to hear from you and I read every response.