If you are working to create a project, whether it is digital or physical, you are starting on a long journey. The path will likely include ideation, research, design, testing, improvement, and probably a few gallons of coffee.
Most projects follow a similar path. There is a pain point that needs to be solved. You realize the main point goes beyond just you, making it more of a universal problem. That moment is when the pain point moves to opportunity and, therefore, a willingness to go down the rabbit hole of creating a solution.
However, as you begin working on the solution, getting feedback from friends and family, and contemplating what the solution could be, you also start to add complexity.
Suddenly your app meant to solve the problem of running out of milk at home opens the door to “why not ensure you never run out of anything in your fridge?” And while you are at it, maybe it should help with laundry and mowing the lawn. In fact, why not be the end-all solution for every chore around the house?
We have all been there. A simple solution becomes a Frankensteinian monstrosity as it attempts to solve more and more. All of this leaves you with immense complexity – of how it all fits together. In the best-case scenario, this delays your release. Worst case? You never ship because you simply can’t get it off the ground.
When looking to ship a new product, big decisions must be made. How will it function, look, and feel? On top of a million product choices, the project needs to stay on track. Hence the uptick of product managers, project managers, tools like ClickUp, Monday.com, Jira, and more.
Building a product can be like building a war ship while sailing to your destination – and trying to decide where that destination should be. There needs to be a laser focus on what your product will do, and, possibly more importantly, what it will not do. What features do you need to sail effectively, and what are other good ideas are just excess – at least for now.
According to Tony Fadell, the creator of the iPod and Nest Thermostat, there is a simple secret to helping you stay on track. In his book, Build: An Unorthodox Guide to Making Things Worth Making, Fadell offers the simple suggestion of writing a press release before you start your project.
Why before you start?
Fadell suggests that before the start of the project, you probably have a decent understanding of the problem you are looking to solve without all the baggage of staring at the problem for months on end, bloating it with features, or getting swept up in a single portion of the project. By writing a good, solid press release, you are telling yourself what you think is most important.
“Acme Software Tools announces today a new app that will keep your fridge continuously stocked with milk. So never eat your cereal dry again because you didn’t notice you were out or forgot to run to the store.”
Then, as you get knee-deep into your project and there are now 30 new features that promise to change the world, you can go back to the press release that you wrote and remind yourself that, though there are other problems to solve, this is the problem you are solving.
A press release should help you to stay on track, keep things more straightforward, and hopefully ship on time.
Just because you go through this exercise doesn’t guarantee you success. A silver bullet to product creation doesn’t exist. It is possible that the original idea won’t work, is too far ahead of its time, or has run into too many barriers.
Sometimes you will need to rewrite the press release. For example, maybe your original assumption was slightly off, or you found a feature that becomes critical to the product’s success. That’s okay.
If you are going to change the original press release, just make sure you:
The purpose of the press release is to increase your chances of succeeding. The most prominent barrier to launching is wrangling the complexity. Projects, especially projects worth doing, always experience a gravitational pull toward bigger and better.
By honing in on the fundamental solution you will bring to the world, you have a better chance of saying “no” to the good but wrong things. And, more importantly, saying “yes” to the right things.