(Disclaimer: My startup journey and my faith overlap in this post. For those of you who want to avoid the theology stop reading now!)
I’m almost at the end of PhDo, a 6 week startup night class that I have been LOVING. One of the key lessons has been about getting your idea started in the quickest, cheapest, fastest way possible.
The idea is that if you wait too long, you work on your idea in secret, you never put it in front of customers, it’s just an idea. You don’t know if it’s something they’ll want or need or appreciate. Until you reach out and touch a human being, you might as well not have done anything.
Sam, the guy running the course, coined a word. Rather than planning a digital masterpiece of an app that might take years to build, is there a simple, manual, analogue way you can solve the same problem for the same person, now. Not once you have all the resources and the app and the staff team and investment and… No. Can you help meet a need today? Start meeting a need now, help someone out, see if it’s well received, then worry about scaling the solution up for more people.
Get analoguer. Get dirty. Get doing – solve a problem today. Scale later.
I did this wrong with my School Management System app. I never met with the staff, and completely underestimated how complex the problem of tracking student attendance is. My solution was way too simplistic, and would never be adequate. The project blew out by 10 months and caused a lot of frustration as a result.
I tried to be a messiah and solve this problem, thinking it would be easy. But I never entered in and felt / understood the pain first. How can you offer help if you have not stood with people and felt their pain and understood the complexity of the problem first?
This is the difference with how Jesus chose to work. He could try solve the world’s problems from in Heaven. Or send some prophet to do the dirty work. Instead he chose to get dirty, get personal, and get in touch with those he was trying to help. Understand their pain and show his solidarity, feel the full weight and complexity of the problem, and show those facing it that you are eager to help, in any way you can, even if you get dirty doing so. Even if it means suffering with them. Even if it means dying with them.
Jesus left the ivory tower of Heaven. He was God, but put his rights as God and abilities as God behind him, he became an ordinary human, wrapped in ordinary human flesh. He got analogue.
Today is the first day of Advent – the season where we anticipate the coming of Jesus to earth, culminating in Christmas.
We join Mary in expecting the birth of the baby Messiah, the God who gave it all up to come and understand our problems and join us in this often-painful world, and resolved to help us in any way he could, no matter the cost.
And we join with the people of faith around the world expecting the second time Jesus will come, having grasped the full complexity and pain of the human condition, and having felt it for himself, he’ll be back with a solution that scales.
Until then, let’s get analoguer and show love to people, not waiting for the perfect plan, strategy or opportunity, but starting right now in a way where you get as close to the problem as you can, and give what you can today, even if it’s not a full and perfect solution.