I’ve often said (and I’m sure others have too) that the best technical inventions (particularly on the web) came from 3 to 5 people. Messenger, Hotmail, Facebook etc. Which is why, back at the BBC I always flinched at huge teams of people for products like iPlayer or sometimes even single pages such as the BBC Homepage. Now I’m not talking about the developers here, I’m referring to product inception and design.
See, I like the way Nasa does it. If you have the resource, split em into teams and see who comes up with the best ideas – or ultimately merge the best ones. It’s great… it keeps em’ hungry.
At the Mobile World Congress last week, I was as always, entertained by the contrast between the suits and the people who really know what’s going on. And never more-so than this year as a keynote speech was delivered by Mark Zuckerberg, complete in T-Shirt and Jeans. He looked so out of place, and yet is actually more native than most people there.
Hardware aside, I don’t really go to the MWC to see what’s coming next. Nor do I think anyone should. Like marketing events, its mostly about what just happened, what was successful and then a load of analysts trying to calculate what will likely be successful next. That’s “Calculate” :-/
But that’s the nature of the beast. People need investment to keep them in coffee while they work. The bigger the ideas, the bigger the investments. The bigger the investments, the more concerned the investors are that you’re following what the suited alanysts predicted… And that right there is when creativity takes its biggest hit.
So often I’ve teased product owners with great new ideas that they were fully psyched about when they ran off to get sign-off from their stake-holders, who ultimately always want to see the stats or examples of where/how that was a success.
So to many of us in a day job it comes down to risk. Risks that aren’t important to the passionate or don’t exist to the digital thrill-seekers in their dorm rooms. Like first-timers playing Street Fighter, the calculating analysts can’t compete with these creative “button mashers” who don’t follow their rules or reasoning. They simply do because they need to fix something. That might not always be profitable, but if it is… then its even better that it grew organically.