When you start a company, it quickly becomes a big part of your identity. For many years, I was "Niklas from Firmafon". I had friends I met through the startup journey that only knew me due to my company.
Putting your identity and feelings into your work at such a high level is hard to avoid, but most people do the same thing with the tasks they perform every day. Designers have a hard time design critique; product managers tend to sell ideas, so they end up convincing instead of discovering; many developers hate pair programming and have anxiety about pull requests.
We fear to be wrong, have bad ideas and look like a fool. We end up pissing in our pats to keep warm.
The hard truth is that the result is even scarier when we sell ideas instead of discovering them. As a product manager and founder, I have multiple times made this mistake myself. I fell in love with an idea. When I made discovery, I ended up hardcore pitching and selling the concept to interviewees who didn't love it. Instead, I should have sat had an open mind trying to learn why they did not instantly like my brilliant thing and how they solved it today.
Through my misguided love for the idea, I ended up building multiple failed features that never got used, wasting countless resources and time while missing obvious excellent products and shortcuts to high growth.
It is the biggest mistake I ever made!
As a community and in our teams, we need to create a discovery culture where we focus on learning rather than "good ideas". We have all heard people say that ideas are worth nothing, as accurate as that is, we need to add, "but learning is".
Starting a company or running product management is not about coming up with the best brainstorm ideas; it's all about learning and iterating. We need to be able to talk openly about it.
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