Everyone loves a good story, so it helps to be a good storyteller.
I started as a writer, and still write constantly. But no matter what field I’ve found myself working in, “communication skills” have always been a difference between passing and succeeding.
Plans are just stories about our future.
It doesn’t matter if they’re battle plans, software roadmaps, or multichannel communication strategies. The plans that we make are narratives that draw a line from where we are now to where want to be.
When it comes to people, Vonnegut had it right – everyone should want something.
Understanding what motivates people is the key to getting things done, even if that motivation is just to get a glass of water.
Pride comes less from the work and more from what the work means.
Build something that matters to you, not in the execution or in the details, but in what that work says and where it fits in with the big picture.
The audience is the ultimate arbiter of success.
No matter how awesome something is, if the audience doesn’t get it, that something didn’t work. Don’t get hung up on the execution, just go back to the drawing board.
Sometimes people don’t know what they want until they see it.
Henry Ford knew that. I’m told that Steve Jobs knew it. It’s a safe bet that anyone who did something that changed the world also knew this. Sometimes the world needs an evolution, others it needs a revolution.
My favorite way to square those two disparate points is to build fast, test often, and iterate.
Feedback is important. There’s a time for perfect. There’s a time for good. But in the quest for feedback, don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.
When it comes to audience feedback, mix qualitative and quantitative analysis to get the whole picture.
Always talk to the audience. Ask questions and listen. Always listen more than you speak. Remember that observation can change responses – that’s just human nature. So, when it comes to user testing, it’s important to get both sides of the story.
Most people make emotional decisions and then back them up with rational explanations after the fact.
Fritz Lang knew this way back in 1927’s Metropolis. The great marketers and salespeople depend on this. But when building software, we tend to forget it. If we want to delight our audience, we need to lead with emotion.
Buy a drawing board.
A sturdy one. Wear out a rut in the carpet from constantly rushing between the audience and the drawing board. Everything is up for improvement – even us. Especially us. The moment we stop learning is the moment we’ve given up.