Product is What Happens to You While You’re Busy Making Other Plans

Boštjan used this paraphrase of Lennon's quote in our regular weekly discussion about the state of Zemanta product as we discussed tradeoffs involved in having focus and being open to new opportunities. There are many examples of products (e.g. Slack, Trello, Opsware, Microsoft) that just happened as people were busy solving other problems. But just like you have people who dreamed of becoming a doctor as children and later dedicating their career to medicine, you have products that solved exactly the problem they initially set to solve (with Apple, Oracle, Intuit, and Salesforce serving as examples). There are plenty of examples of people and products who spent their lives jumping around never becoming successful in anything; as well as many cases of stubborn people not seeing an opportunity because they had a fixed goal in mind.

There are many ways how to rationalize past actions. Lennon's quote is one of them. Unfortunately explaining the past doesn't necessarily lead to better predictions about the future. And being open minded and trying many different things gives no more guarantees for success than being single-minded. "Your choices are half chance, so are everybody else's" to quote one of my favorite poems so don't congratulate or berate yourself too much.

Photo by Nathan Rupert