Make It Happen

How often are we struck with The Perfect Idea that sounds so clear in our mind? Imagine, an elegant technical solution that’s guaranteed to reduce complexity, increase speed, and make everyone’s life easier.

You, burning with excitement, run into your Product Manager’s office to share this amazing new approach you have that is going to change your product forever, solve the pain points of your team’s day-to-day struggle, or (dramatic pause) change the world for the better. Then you hear the familiar: “Oh that sounds interesting, let’s put it on the backlog. We’ll get back to it later when we aren’t pushing for this release.”

One possible scenario is that you do just that. Time goes by and you and your team never get back to it. A short while later you forget that you even had an idea to begin with.

The next scenario is one where you are so convinced that your idea is necessary that you proceed to secretly ramp down your usual tasks and start spending cycles on your new idea. This can last for days, weeks, months and in some rare cases years.

The third scenario involves spending a weekend investigating your idea, putting together a small prototype to demonstrate the benefits of the new approach while also shedding light on the necessary steps required to deploy it. Naturally, you follow up on this effort by blogging on your efforts and crafting the perfect reveal.js presentation before proceeding to chat with a couple of your internal decision makers. After this conversations you are given the green light to propose your idea to the team. After getting everyone’s buy-in you go ahead and productionalize it.

There are of course more than these three possible avenues. The obvious fourth option here in SF is quitting your job, getting some funding after showing off your product. Then follow your heart’s desire of building out a company of your own, free of all of the problems you’ve encountered at previous work places. Perhaps you put years of work into this only to realize that things do not work out, even after scoring big with the press.

As developers we easily get excited about new ideas and new technologies, but it’s important to keep in mind this old adage that product managers swear by: every idea needs to happen at the right time and in the right place. Given that you have almost no time to devote to research in your day to day work, there are many tests your proof of concept needs to pass before moving it to the next stage. It needs to get buy in. You’ve got to have capable teammates to help develop it. It has to be intuitive. Once it gets to this point, you will still need to oversee its execution every step of the way. On the other hand if after some reasonable amount of effort you find that your idea doesn’t feel right, it may be time to let it go.

In our current ecosystem, we are all encouraged to be our own boss as funding becomes easier to land and products become easier to launch. That said there are many opportunities to lead from within your current organization that you can take advantage of given the right combination of ambition and ability. We hope our events continue to provide you with new ideas that help you continue to innovate either as an entrepreneur, or better yet within your current organization as an intrapreneur.