New shiny thing

nz20131170I’m working on a new product. I’ve done all the interesting creative work, such as designing the user interface and implementing the difficult algorithmic parts. Now I’m left with the boring stuff, the installer, website, documentation, licensing etc. The things that make it a proper commercial product. They aren’t optional.

Suddenly I am thinking of all sorts of other interesting ideas for products I would rather be working on. The temptation is strong. The new ideas seem so much more exciting than what I am working on now. But it is a mirage. These shiny new ideas would also require their fair share of drudge work to ship.

Continually abandoning work in progress for a new idea is also a form of cowardice. If I never ship, then I can’t fail. But I can’t succeed either. And I won’t learn anything useful from a string of half-finished products that never shipped. So I just have to push on through the tedious bit, knowing that things will get more interesting again once I ship. In my weaker moments I sit down and sketch out ideas for new products on big sheets of paper. Then I file them away and get back to work.

It isn’t easy to stay focussed week after week and put in the hard work to create a new product for uncertain rewards. It’s what separates the professionals from the amateurs. Professionals ship. Now excuse me, I have a product to finish.

7 thoughts on “New shiny thing

  1. Jon Matthews

    Well worth saying Andy. I’ve fallen pray to this many times. The drudge work of a release is bad; even worse can be the marketing that comes afterwards. It’s so much easier and exciting to write new code than to do good marketing. I’m dedicating much more of my time to marketing now, but I constantly feel the pull back to some new coding project.

  2. Richie Hindle

    Perhaps your next product should be Productisation As A Service. I bring you my completed software product, you build all the pieces necessary to productise it. I pay you for the time I save, you make a profit because you’ve built tools to help automate the process. The cost of building the tools is amortised over many products, and you don’t need to go through the process of productising those tools because only you use them (you and, eventually, your team of VAs who do most of the work).

  3. Tom Reader

    More by accident than design, I seem to have stumbled into doing quite a few medium-length contract jobs at the moment, and it seems dangerously like the best of both worlds. I get to solve the interesting problems, design the algorithms and test them – and then hand it over. Someone else does the grunt work of turning it into a product, getting installation routines written, documentation, talking to customers and providing support, while I’m doing the interesting work on the next project. Of course, I’m on a simple hourly rate, so I’m never going to “strike it rich” with my own killer app. But so far, it seems like an interesting way of earning some money and getting exposed to a lot of interesting projects. There must be a catch…

  4. Sanjay

    Well said. But at least, the new ideas deserve to be noted so that you can find them later. Often they’re also related to the product you’re already working on. I encountered this situation early in my career. I ended up creating my own program to store and classify new ideas. Incidentally, that was my entry into the software business:)

  5. Max

    I remember myself several years ago deciding whether I should continue the development of my app. My competitor’s app was rather strong, and I thought I should pause the development for some time. Now I can clearly see what was the right solution: switch that app to SAAS :)

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