I've been thinking a lot about what motivates those of us BUIDLing blockchain products.
Three types of motivation keep emerging in my consciousness and daily experience. Each type has its own attractions and difficulties. This post will explain my perspective on the three.
First I'll describe the idea to product path. Doing this will frame how and when to use the different motivation types.
The Idea to Product Deployment Path
Let's start with the successful product deployment cycle in its broadest sense. A product starts as an idea and ends with a product deployment and used by someone. There's a lot that needs to happen between those points.
The Exciting Start
The first 20-30% feels easy. Motivation is high. The idea's new, fresh and exciting. There's a lot to figure out. Future expectations are high. Near-term expectations are lower. In this phase, something's better than nothing. A blockchain product prototype doesn't have to be perfect, as long as it works. (My gratitude to @sohkai for reminding me of this.)
The Middle Ground
The next 50-60% still rolls along alright. Motivation ebbs and flows. It rides the fading excitement and momentum of the first 20-30%.
The work is a mix of semi-hard problems and some easier ones. It also includes some stuff that's not exciting, yet needs to get done anyway.
In this phase, you may start getting distracted by the shiny ideas. They emerge without pause on Twitter and in an overwhelming number of chat rooms, among other places. You may start experimenting with a few of them to break the monotony.
The Difficult Finish
The final 10-30% gets hard. Motivation may nose dive. The idea's not new now. It feel stale, compared to all the other stuff you could be doing. The work is now characterized by the hard stuff. The problems need a lot of thought energy to solve. You may be feeling a little burnt-out by now too.
The stuff that's not hard may be boring. It's the stuff that was put off until it couldn't be put-off any longer. Attention to detail is more critical here than ever. This can feel mind numbing.
Closing this final 10-30% takes as much effort as completing the first 90-70%. That makes it even harder.
Distractions become more tempting now. They're almost irresistible. The lure to jump to something else is ever-present. Maybe you jump, to give yourself a break. Or at least that's what you tell yourself :)
Now you're back at the exciting start of a brand new idea. It's even harder to return to the difficult finish of the previous idea. It's even harder if you're not aware of what's happening.
This is especially true at the start of a new technology revolution. It's the best and brightest minds that spark these revolutions. It's these same minds that can get bored fast, once the thrill of solving an initial challenge fades away.
The 3 Types of Motivation
The previous description was an attempt to build awareness of what we go through BUIDLing an idea into a product. The difficult finish prevents most ideas from becoming products. They get stuck in idea purgatory, never realizing their true potential. You experience frustration and stagnation if this happens too often. Idea purgatory results in an eventual graveyard of ideas, wasted energy and a feeling that nothing ever gets done.
I'll now jump-into the three types of motivation. They can be used, each in different ways, to prevent ideas from getting stuck in purgatory. Doing this will reduce associated frustration and stagnation that comes along with it.
The New Exciting Thing
This was introduced in the difficult finish description. This is one of, if not the most powerful motivation types. It sparks entry in the exciting start phase.
The new exciting thing is also the most dangerous motivation type. Jumping to the next new exciting usually means jumping out of the difficult finish, before it's finished. Doing this and not returning to the previous difficult finish initiates idea purgatory.
Yet, taken in limited doses, jumping to the new exciting thing can invigorate you to come back to the hard finish you left. You may come back feeling re-energized, refreshed and renewed. This only works if you jump into the new exciting thing with awareness of what you're doing. You also need the discipline to limit how far you go, before coming back to the hard finish.
Talking to Product Users or Potential Users
This one's difficult for blockchain BUIDLers. Many projects don't have users, yet. Many aren't sure who their users are or will be someday.
Yet, speaking to people who've shown an interest in your product can feel uplifting. It reminds you you're BUIDLing this for someone to use, not only to write great code. Maybe it reminds you why you're building this in the first place, like realizing the power of a decentralized world.
This motivation type can be as easy as listening to one user, or potential user, to describe how they'd like to use your product, as well as their underlying motivations for doing so. You can do this via online forums, chat, video conferencing or even IN PERSON :)
These don't have to be long, structured user interviews. Those are helpful in their own way, of course. What I'm suggesting is, don't delay talking to users casually, as well as working through more structured user feedback.
Don't allow these conversations to throw you off-track though. If you decide to act on some of the feedback, structure it into your existing process with awareness.
Don't let the new ideas you hear tempt you to jump into the next new thing. Log the ideas somewhere you'll remember to return to them. Then jump back into the difficult finish and put something in users' hands they can start using.
Finishing the Difficult Finish
This third motivation type is the hardest. It's also the most fulfilling over the long-haul. Doing this means you've crossed the finish line. You put something in the hands of your users to use. The idea's become a reality. It's world changing potential is released. It can get to work doing what you intended it to do.
Doing this also avoids idea-purgatory. The team feels hopeful and motivated. Momentum BUIDLs and carries into the next release or product.
Sticking points and frustration still manifest, yet now the team works from a stronger foundation of hope and optimism. This makes these hits easier to experience, not get hooked on and keep moving toward the next finish line.
The blockchain revolution's in full swing. In this still early stage, it's important to bring awareness to what motivates and continues to motivate you to #BUIDL.
It's easy to jump from one new exciting thing to the next in the early stage of any revolution. This one's no different.
Being aware of the idea lifecycle allows us to make conscious decisions within the products lifecycle. The different motivation types are the tools we can use to implement the decisions we make along the way. Implementing them skillfully could be the difference between your ideas potential being unleashed or stuck in idea-purgatory forever.
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