Mantra for work.
I believe in fast-moving product development environments where finding true value for the user is top of mind. When it comes to product design people are the key (both your team and your consumer). They define the initial problems, they dictate where things are going right and where they're going wrong, and they are the ones that can uncover the solutions.
If you don’t observe how people use what you create, it’s near impossible to provide them with what they actually need/want in the future. So...
What's your problem?
There are many problems in the world; finding the ones that are worth sweating for is the real challenge. Validating that a group of people actually have a problem worth solving is the first step of the journey. Do people have this problem? Is the problem already being addressed, if at all? Are people willing to pay for the remedy?
If you’re not solving a problem that addresses a real need, then you’re just making something for you.
Fail fast to uncover true value.
Iterate fast and understand where you went wrong. Failing quickly and learning helps you hone your ideas and shift focus towards finding the right path forward, quicker. Don't be afraid to fail. Be afraid to believe that everything you do will always be successful.
Make it work before you #makeitwork.
Don't put on the polyurethane before the woodworking is complete. You must bake the cake before you can add the frosting. You get the idea. You have to create something that has functional value before sprinkling on the aesthetics. If your hamburgers and your basements are starting to hang out together then you might want to reel the line back in and re-evaluate what you're fishing for.
But, the details matter.
That being said, people respond more clearly to things that they perceive as real. Providing something that seems tangible helps you understand the true intent of your user. Thus, giving you a clearer picture into how you can derive greater value for them.
Follow a process that works for you.
In the current era of people evangelizing all sorts of ways to build great products, you have to meander a winding road of choices of “how to build”. As long as your north star is focused on finding the true value for your core audience, you should use what works best for the teams within your organization. Process shouldn’t feel cumbersome or frustrating; it should feel liberating and structured. It should keep everyone on target, informed, and autonomous so that they are capable of producing the right results. Use whatever process is right for you, though personally, I’m a believer in Agile/scrum.
People are the key.
Who you surround yourself with drives who you become both at work and at home. They inspire the things you learn, the decisions you make, and ultimately the aspirations in your life. They help you understand how the hard problems get solved and why they’re even being solved in the first place. Creating great products takes talent and dedication, but more importantly it takes collaboration and empathy. Unlocking the ideas in your head hedges on the greatness (or mediocrity) that you decide to surround yourself with.