March 2016 by John Saddington

People over Product

This is a guest post by John Saddington. John is the founder and CEO at TOMO and an award-winning indie developer via Desk. He loves video games.

I’ve learned this one the hard way and it pains me to recollect how many times I’ve had to learn the same lesson! The reality is that great teams build great products, even when the idea is somewhat mediocre.

In fact, we’ve seen this time and time again, haven’t we? Where mediocre ideas (or just plain dumb ideas) are built by great teams of people who turn it into a very successful business and organization. We’ve also seen the flip-side where ideas that we might consider "innovative" or "genius" never find traction or even survive because of the sheer incompetence of the people and the team behind them. Result? Potential unfortunately wasted.

What I’ve learned over time after launching a bunch of companies and products is that the people that you decide to partner and work with are vastly more important than the idea itself. Sure, the idea may have incredible merit but you need to find the right people to get on that ship so you can take over the world.

This prioritization (people over product) has helped me do better work and achieve even greater success regardless of the size of the team, product, or organization. This principle also applies even in indie software development where your community and passionate volunteers can make the journey feel less lonely and more productive.

Choose wisely the people that you invite into your world and make sure that they have the character and attributes that are going to help you not just build a great product and company but also join you for the rough times, be there when you’re down-and-out, and encourage you to get back on your horse.