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Adam McGurk
Adam McGurk

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It’s about the why, not the what

One of the things my wife and I most like to do together is play board games. Oftentimes, we'll invite other people to play as well.

But we've learned something interesting-most people don't like learning new games.

This had perplexed me for awhile, because everyone loves playing games, but people struggle learning games. And then, last night, it hit me like a ton of bricks.

It's because when we play games we focus on the "what" (or the execution) and not the "why" (the actual problem). Let me tell you what I mean by that.

How many times have you been learning a board game and people try and teach you it...but they only focus on the what? "On your turn you do this" or "When you get this card, you do that" and so on. That's frustrating! Sitting there not knowing what to do and being told what to oftentimes leaves us not even wanting to play anymore!

And so you have to focus on, and tie everything back to the "why", and then people can have more fun!

"But Adam", you ask, "This is a development blog...why are you talking about board games?" And I imagine you can deduce the reason...because this completely ties back to development.

Why do so many software businesses fail? Why do teams sometimes "miss the mark" when it comes to projects? Because they're focusing on the "what." They're focusing on what they're doing for their customer: "these are all the products and features in our product" or, even worse "this is our tech stack! It's super cool and we're very proud of it!" When businesses focus on that, they fail. Businesses should focus on the "why." "We're solving this problem for the customer." "Implementing this solves that problem for the customer." And so on and so on. It's a subtle change, but it works wonders.

Focusing on the "why" is how I'm trying to build my product right now, called:

So what is my "why"? Well it's: "being able to upload a video and easily share it is too cumbersome, there is definitely an easier way."

The "what" is easy (and sometimes more fun) to focus on: "I'm building a JAMStack app" or "It's going to be able to be searchable, sortable, and be able to give you several different embed codes for your video." But again, when you focus on the what, you will lose sight of what you are hoping to do, which is to solve a problem for your customer.

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