Higher Purpose

I wrote at length before about my belief that a start-up should build lousy products. If customers will want to use your product despite all its flaws, you know you're onto something big and a proper company can be build to optimize the product and bring it to its full potential. While in theory people will agree that such approach makes sense, it is extremely difficult to pull in practice since it requires from the product manager to bear the pressure of your customers, coworkers, and other stakeholders who see obvious problems and cannot really understand why the problems aren't fixed.

If the road is tough the most effective tool a leader has at his or her disposal is to call on higher purpose of the journey and how rewards of reaching the goal will compensate for all troubles experienced by the people on their way towards the goal. It might very well be that the most successful product leaders are not successful because their vision is so brilliant, but simply because they have a vision in the first place! If a product leader is stubborn and convincing enough for others to follow him or her towards the glorified goal, it's much easier for everybody involved to avoid the temptations of going after the low hanging fruits, to have courage to take the road less traveled, and to resist customers and other stakeholders to pull the product team in their own direction. Of course, in many (most?) cases the team will face a dead end. But on the other hand, a certain way to go nowhere is to stay put or run in circles.