Picking and delivering a winner

I can say with [no] humility that I’ve had the opportunity to build winning products.

Multiple times.

There are several ways to define winning, but the one that is most universally accepted is when a product makes money.

When a product makes money there is a kind of love that comes that is really unmatched.   I wish this love for all my development friends.  Here are a few things I think that help increase the probability that this will happen for you.

  • Make sure you validate your market before you start.  This is easiest when you have experienced strategists but if you don’t, do your own homework.  Spending any amount time on something that people don’t care enough to spend money to solve, is not going to optimize your results.
  • Align other teams to a shared success.  The best and most lucrative projects I have done are ones where others get to show their best work through my delivery.   Whether that is the documentation group, the performance and benchmarking team, the user experience group the training group or the technology team.  The more people who want the project to succeed, the better result you will have bringing your vision to light.
  • Really know your customer.   Both the customer who is buying your product and the person who is using your product.  Make sure your product makes them feel smart.  A product that makes the customer feel smart is the one they want to buy.
  • Expect that the deliverable will  be much more than code.   Products that make money are those that are well understood and ready to be sold.  References, road-maps, white papers, examples, demos, these deliverables are what can accelerate or stall a product ramp.  Never leave these to chance.  Make sure they are worthy of your products and be ready and willing to personally do what it takes to get them right.
  • Have a hook but not only a hook- you need something that captures the imagination and attention of the sales team but also delivers actual value.  The more you have of both, the better you will find your long term results.
  • Once you have done your homework, and know you are right, don’t lose your faith. In the time from idea to delivery there tends to be a lot of thrash and second guessing.  My best wins were where I did my homework first and then held firm to my belief.  In the end, it’s the delivery that differentiates the women from the girls [grin].

So for all my friends who apply their talents to creating the new and the needed, I wish you all unmatched success.  For I really do know you have earned it, and even if the money goes to your company and not to you directly, I am sure that the fame will more than make up for it!

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