Lincoln Anderson / Development / January 15th, 2016

Building a Digital Product and Overcoming Fear

This week, my team and I kicked off development of a brand new digital project at 352. This is always an exciting time for us, yet this is different. 352 leadership has given us 6 weeks of company time to further develop our own product, Mixframe. Unlike a typical project, I’m a developer, Product Owner, stakeholder and end-user, all rolled into one.

As the product owner, I felt a few opening words to the team were appropriate to show my appreciation, and perhaps to inspire.

steve-ballmer-developersNow, despite being an introvert by nature, some part of me wanted to burst into the room with fanfare. I’d do a lap around the room and scream, “Developers! Developers! Developers!” at the top of my lungs. The team would cheer and high-five. We’d pop a bottle of champagne and dance on the conference room table (or Dougie, or Dab, or whatever kids are doing these days). I wanted to show my excitement.

Yet, flashy displays didn’t feel genuine because there was another feeling I had. Fear.

I’m afraid we won’t chart an effective strategy.

I’m afraid no one will like our product.

I’m afraid we’ll fail.

It’s something I think every Product Owner faces when heading into the unknown world of development, and I knew the team probably had the same fears. And you know what? That’s normal. I think it’s healthy to voice your shared fears and face them together.

So, at Monday morning’s Sprint 0, I left my dancing shoes at home, I kept the champagne corked, and I spoke in an even tone.

And I let the team know that despite all my fears, I’m still excited.

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I’m excited because our product is something we’re passionate about. It’s not just a get-rich-quick scheme we’ll lose interest in. It’s a product our team would love to use every day. Not only is this a great reward in itself, it’s also the hallmark of a successful startup. Products are more successful when the team is intrinsically invested in the idea, just like ours.

I’m excited because 352’s executive leadership has shown nothing but support and guidance. New products need an incubation period and time to grow. Our leaders understand that. Every time I’ve spoken with them about our product vision, they have balanced advice. “First, focus on building something you believe in, then put the momentum behind it to let it grow.” It’s inspiring when bosses share your values.

I’m excited for one more reason. I’ve been a loyal employee of 352 for more than 15 years. It’s been an absolute blast but  – just like anyone else – I’ve considered other opportunities from time to time. And I’ve considered forming my own startup. I’ve wondered, if I did such a thing, who would work with me? Where would I find them? Would they be smart enough? Could I trust them? Would my product idea be any good? Would I know how to market it?

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So many questions. I’d figure it all out in time but gosh, it would be an agonizing process. Now, I look around the room at my product team – my friends – and I’m blown away. I see some of the smartest and hardest-working people I know, encompassing all the values and skills needed to make a digital product successful. Development to design, from UX to marketing. Where else could someone find such a perfect opportunity?

We’ll be building our product during the next 6 weeks, and we’d like to share our progress with you. We’ll share our stumbles, our accomplishments and show you how 352 builds its products. Hopefully, we’ll show something that excites you.

No one can say what the future holds for our product, but if it can be successful, it surely has the best shot at 352.

And that’s exciting.

  • Paul Traylor

    You all really do have a dream team! Just remember to schedule some time for a little sleep over the next 6 weeks. Better build it into the backlog just in case.

  • Paul Traylor

    You all really do have a dream team! Just remember to schedule some time for a little sleep over the next 6 weeks. Better build it into the backlog just in case.