The lifecycle of an idea

10 May 2020
10 May 2020

There are two pivotal moments in the lifecycle of a new idea:

Inspiration -> Question

This is a step often ignored, and critical if done right and consciously. Ideas usually don’t start out as correct solutions to a problem, or even an accurate and helpful expression of a question. Often, it’s just an inspiration. Maybe it’s the identification of a trend or an itch or pain point in your life you want to scratch. Regardless of the cause, we should take more time and intent when transforming inspiration to expressive questions to answer or specific problems to solve.

Solution -> Routine

The first solution is almost never the best built. The minimal viable product’s goal is discovery of the problem domain, not to solve the problem well or efficiently or even easily. Instead, the MVP / V1’s job is not to solve the problem well, but to understand (1) whether there’s value in solving the problem at all, and (2) which parts of the problem are most important.

Specifically, there’s a part after the first prototype or MVP is built, where users start to develop routines around the prototype. They form habits and start to build workflows and patterns and mental models around how the thing works. And that routine helps us calibrate our understanding of the problem domain to the real world, and based on the routines we discover, we can iterate or build better, future versions. To rebuild and rewrite before these routines show themselves is inefficient, and to sit idle after the routines appear is complacency, which usually gives way to being competed into obsolescence.

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