For almost two decades, I worked in the digital industry. Over the years, I observe the same pattern in many products or services.
It starts with a smart and simple solution. Sure, usually it’s not perfect, a bit rough on the edges and with some small bugs, but it works.
So people love it and use it, and the product gets traction. Users ask for improvements and new features, and the software begins to grow. The developers add new layers of code. Maybe they are even new developers, hired to keep up with the success of the solution. Every now and then, someone wants to leave a footprint on the product, so new pieces are added. Even if they weren’t asked for.
All works fine until, all of a sudden it doesn’t. It may be because a new competitor enters the arena disrupting the game. Or something turns the industry upside down. Or maybe it’s just a nasty bug that compromises the whole product. Whatever the reason, a radical change to the core of the product would be needed. The problem is that there are so many layers that nobody knows what to do. They all worried that even the slightest change, would crumble everything.
Some stick to what they have until they slowly become irrelevant. Others rebuild everything from scratch because it’s easier than changing what is.
My feeling is that something similar happens to people. While we climb the ladder of success, moving forward in our career, we add layers over layers. Success and failures, experiences, knowledge, skills. We keep adding following a linear path. Until something disrupts our journey to the top, or maybe we get to that top, and we discover that our core is covered by so many layers, we can barely remember who we are.
I guess it happened to me at least once or twice. Likely for me, I always found people who helped me clear out all those layers and see what wanted to emerge from my core.