Life Is A Prototype

Keep iterating!

The year of 2017 is my year of lean product management. I went to several product management conferences, and gave a few talks and workshops on prototyping for product managers, iterative design, design/PM collaboration. One idea emerged: We used to use the word "product" to represent something complete, ready for mass production, and "prototype" the experiments, ready to be discarded once validated. Now with the magic of internet, if we could release product updates any time and all the time, even with experiemental features to probe what the users want, then where do you draw the line between a prototype and a product?

Then I thought about life. We used to have this concept of "grown-up" - "What do you want to be when you grow up?" - as if grown-up would be a complete state of life. Nowadays we discovered the "growth mind", meaning you'd be always growing and learning and redefining who you are. We should treat life like a prototype - have a hypothesis about where we want to go, then design an experiement to test it, based on the feedback we receive, we adjust our hypothesis, and iterate!

That's probably how I had been rolling...

Before 2016, my persona was this nerdy girl (to the right), who was playing with CSS, Javascript and her cat. My favorite work to this day is still the Lattice. Back then, I bothered enough to code up an entire presentation to advocate for in-browser prototyping for designers, which was essentially saying "Designers, Javascript and CSS are not that hard, pick them up and you'll feel great!"

I dropped the ball eventually. When I worked on larger and more complex software systems, my attention shifted from features and interactions to systems and architectures. As the Conway's Law goes: "Organizations are constrained to produce designs which are copies of the communication structures of these organizations." A robust software architecture requires a robust communication structure of the organization who builds it. My recent works are largely around building strong teams by improving team communication, empathy at work, continuous feedback and digital transformation journey at large enterprises.

Now I feel much better about the inconsistent narrative of my life. I just have too many experimental features! Where will my mind be next year? I'm thrilled to find out.

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