We live in an amazing era of software. We walk around with powerful networked computers in our pockets/purses where we can wirelessly download millions of software titles, most for free, in under a minute. While most people can appreciate how insanely cool this is, I think there is an important secondary effect. An aspiring software engineer or product manager can experiment and experience basically an unlimited range of existing software to find inspiration and to lean what’s convention and what products are paving new territory. That’s a really powerful dynamic, and I believe will give rise to the greatest generation of engineers and product mangers…all who will grow up with an addiction to downloading apps on their mobile devices and fiddling with little limitation.
Take advantage of this opportunity to experiment freely. Don’t take it for granted. You see, a lot of senior product managers these days grew up in an era where software experimentation was really costly. You had to pay big bucks for each software title and you had to physically go to a store to get them. I know, I know, the horror of going to a store. But that was the only way software was distributed then. And when you don’t drive and you don’t have any money, exposure to a range of software at a formative age was prohibitive.
Except if you knew a couple of important tricks and you were willing to break the rules.