To Sell or To Build, that’s the question

Selling before building

Photo by Edgar Chaparro on Unsplash

Engineering loves things that are neat. Neatly asked for , neatly used, neatly sequenced. However unfortunately the real world is not neat. It’s messy as heck. Often the things that our users say they want are not really want they want. If the right kinds of questions aren’t asked, fact finding is not done early on or there are not effective feedback loops along the process, this could end up resulting in days or weeks (sometimes even months) of effort going into building solutions that will never be used.

The other end of this spectrum is observed when you have highly aggressive sales teams going ahead and selling things that don’t exist. If they are successful they are able to monetize an offering that doesn’t even exist. Sometimes they might sell things that are in the process of being built and other times they might be selling the mere idea of a product which hasn’t been brought into existence. If this is done repeatedly with no concern for organizational or product health, this could be a terrible long term approach.

However, that being said, as much as I like building things, I really like to see my work being used by other people. Put another way, I would much rather prefer that we sell things that don’t exist than build things that don’t sell. The former might lead to a few harrowing moments followed by the satisfaction of seeing the value of your work. The latter is failed elaborate expedition that brings joy to no one.

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