Love value, value love

I’m a Product Manager, I’m also a father, a husband and a Marine and all of these inform my perspective on love.

Don’t love your plan, your product, don’t love your company, don’t even love your problem. Love your people.

We need to unabashedly bring love back into our lives.

Ive been reminded of this by a confluence of events: as a part of my work on the team working to re-connect and describe IBMs’ purpose and mission I’ve been reading Satya Nadella’s “Hit refresh” about how he led the change and transformation of Microsoft into its new mission and purpose and how big a part love played in it.

By seeing reminders of mortality and limitations of time on Twitter, the seizing of another base in Afghanistan by the TB, one that soldiers lost lives in taking and defending, making me think of places where that is true for me too, of a dad reflecting on his sons’ learning of death with the passing of a dog.

And some recent conversations with friends who work at a local software startup: Pendo whose name literally means value in latin and love in Swahili. Value love and love value.

These have made me stop and think about my love for my daughters, our mornings together when our 1 year old wakes me up, and our time as I feed her, then her 5 year old sister joins us and we have a little time while mom catches up on sleep. I may view this as a chore some days when I lose sight of things, but I love these girls, and our time is limited together.

Time marches ever onward and we cant stop it. The products we build, the offerings we provide, the experiences we enable, I think we need to unabashedly embrace that we want to build products that people love. But to do so with the recognition that we must deliver true value to do that. It is dangerous to love an institution, a company, an object or a thing.

(Take it from someone who spent years loving the US Marine Corps, and in many ways still does.) But we can love people. We can build products in service of delivering true value to people. And for that our products can be loved.

We don’t want to make our products addictive – something people use despite their better judgement. Something they feel worse after using or feel compelled to click in over and over. We want to be solving a real problem for them – that may mean we want to get them into and out of our experience as fast as possible: a search function, a weather app. It may mean we want them to build healthy habits – a meditation app, or music, or a messenger that connects them with old friends. It can even be an enterprise app that helps them feel more connected to colleagues, engaged in the work they do or appreciated for the value they contribute.

When we balance quantitative (how many users are we serving, how well are we meeting their needs, how are we delighting them?) with qualitative (speaking directly to individual users about their hopes, fears, their triumphs and their pain.)

When we balance love of our users, our customers, and our mission to solve problems for them, with love of our team mates and colleagues and our ability to keep delivering on the mission, and our families and the life we value outside work to be able to continue to sustain these efforts, that’s when we work at our highest contribution.

We can then provide offerings, products, services, and experiences that love value, and that value love.