Watching the success of others can be inspiring, or it can be depressing. Almost everything looks obvious in retrospect. Especially when the idea has been fool-proofed and the execution is told as a flawless tale of epicness.
However, success stories are almost always full of lies. They are a necessary PR step to take a company further, to establish a credibility base. It is usually not written by the people responsible for that success. Here are a few tips to keep a realistic mindset when analyzing the success of others.
Easy is a lie
There is no such thing as an intrinsically easy task. Easy is a lie that hides the following: pre-existing knowledge, re-enactment of a previous scenario, very favorable environment, leverage of external resources, abstraction and proper division of labor between work groups competently chosen.
Execution is never flawless
Only very few people like to acknowledge what went wrong. Game developers do post-mortems on Gamasutra. Some artists blog about the hardships they had to go through to finish a certain piece. Companies don’t like to tell you that they blew deals, had to cut down features, went short on budget.
Shit happens, everywhere. Within companies with good CEOs, they’re the ones taking most of the flak. That’s an essential part of their roles: to make sure that whatever happens, they can continue to provide the best possible environment for their execution team.
If it’s big, it’s not about you
While individuals can build amazing things, beyond a certain scale you need to work in a team. When you’re on top, it’s your role to choose people, to organize them in the structure you think will work best. Your contribution becomes less direct but still very crucial.
People are a unique kind of resource. You can change offices and still continue working in the same direction. You can change the name of your company and still keep making products. But however self-congratulatory you become, don’t think you can change your entire team and keep doing the same thing.
You’re not the only one going through hard times, it’s just that other don’t show it. Practicing is never lost time, you can take advantage of any previous experience when starting something new. If you’re working with a team, they are your most precious assets, take care of them like it’s your own family.