Looking back before you look forward

Once in a while, you get some really, really great advice - so great that it is the most obvious thing in the world once you hear it. Its the kind of advice that definitely bears repeating; so here goes.

I was chatting about the strategy of a certain product with a senior product lead over lunch. I started talking about what it should be doing going forward, when the person I was talking to asked me pause.

"Given where they are, and what they knew then, what do you think should've happened six months ago instead?"

I paused for thought.

"If it is hard to answer that question", he continued, "even when you are 100% omniscient about how things will play out, its less likely you can figure out the right path going forward."

The past isn't a predictor of the future, but it does inform it and at the very least
“Those that fail to learn from history, are doomed to repeat it.” George Santayana
As obvious as it is, this kind of thinking doesn't happen often enough - particularly if the past outcomes aren't ideal - which in fact is when you need to think about the past the most.

So no matter what you do (i.e. apply this to life, product strategy, implementation, relationships etc. etc.) -

Think hard about, and analyze, the past before you dream about the future.


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