25 February 2010 ~ 0 Comments

Building a Support Group To Share Ideas And Help You Ship

It all started with the realization that having ideas and trying to execute them alone really sucks. The cycle usually goes like this:

  1. “ha ha” moment
  2. brainstorming to refine the idea
  3. start working on the idea
  4. continuing for a few days or a few weeks
  5. losing motivation
  6. stop working on the idea
  7. return to 1
  8. etc etc

How to keep the motivation to work on something long enough to be able to ship it?

I think two big factors are feedback and public accountability, and a good way to get both is to build a support group.

On Feedback And A Few Critical Questions To Ask About Your Ideas

If you are not looking for feedback from other people , you have no idea if your idea is any good. Since what you’re creating will probably involve convincing real people to use it or to buy it at some point, it makes sense to know what real people think about it. Michael Michalko details this in his Thinkertoys book with the concept of Murder Board: he advises to select a few people to give critical advice on your work and to help you moving forward. A few questions worth asking:

  • Does the idea meet a real need?
  • Can you offer alternative ideas?
  • Is it worth implementing?
  • Is it possible to make it happen? How soon?

With feedback, you are able to shape an idea with several critical minds rather than just one.

Public accountability Works, Because You Care About People

One of my most successful motivational hacks had been to commit on twitter to do something. I was slacking off by not putting the time to learn dutch, and so I committed to my followers to finish my dutch learning book at the time in 3 months, which was a schedule of one lesson every two days. I had not been able to do more than 15 lessons in 1 year, but by publicly committing and regularly sharing my progress, I was able to finish the book and its 85 lessons on time after 3 months!

Committing to a circle of people you care about will make wonders for the projects you intend to accomplish. Because you don’t want to disappoint them, do you?

It’s easy to get comfortable and not to ship anything, and let ourselves be dragged away by our daily activities. Public accountability will make sure you don’t get too comfortable.

Creating a Mastermind Group To Share Experiences, Help Others and Execute Ideas

Mastermind groups were described in Napoleon Hill’s book How To Think And Grow Rich as:

The coordination of knowledge and effort of two or more people, who work toward a definite purpose, in the spirit of harmony.

Three friends and I had our first meeting this week in a popular cafe in Amsterdam. Four people with different experiences but all with the desire to share ideas and knowledge, give feedback and help each other act on ideas. To give you some examples, here are a few ideas we thought about doing for next meetings:

  • Presenting technologies that others may not be familiar with.
  • Presenting projects we are working on and get critical feedback on it.
  • Inviting specialists of different fields: medicine, architecture, NGOs…These people could talk about the pain points they experience in their daily job and how software could solve some of their problems.
  • As an extension of the special guest event, we talked about having a longer event (for e.g, during a weekend) with several software developers/designers and one field specialist (as described in the previous point). The specialist would give the requirements for a software application that would help doing things better in her field, and the developers would make it go live at the end of the weekend. This idea is a bit similar to DevFort.

Wrapping up: Building A Support Group In 4 Steps

If you want to raise the likeliness of shipping something that is valuable to people:

  1. Join a group of people willing to share ideas and knowledge in your field.
  2. If it doesn’t exist, create it and invite like-minded people to join it.
  3. Learn from each other
  4. And implement your ideas!

Now, dear reader, it’s your turn to share what you think about building a support group. What has been your experience?

Congrats! You made it until the end. You can follow me on Twitter.

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