The PDP of your future is all about asking the right questions.

March 21, 2024
Ahmadou DIALLO

Spoiler alert: PDP Is Not a Product Development Plan.

“I can't change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination.”

Jimmy Dean

Building an aircraft is complex. You need millions of pieces to fit together in a particular order. You have to coordinate sourcing those items all around the world. Thousands of people need to work together to make it happen.

There is a reason why even Elon Musk said airplanes are too much for him. We are talking about the guy who revolutionized cars and space travel with Tesla and SpaceX.

To deal with that complexity, aircraft manufacturers have what is called a PDP or Product Development plan. 

See it as the master plan of creating an aircraft from the paper to the sky. Today, it takes around 8 to 10 years for Airbus and Boeing to define, market, design, produce, and deliver a new aircraft. 

Yes, many competitors build prototypes and fail to get into the game. The graveyard has many MVPs (Minimum Viable Products) and PoCs (Proof of Concepts).

Without a solid PDP (Product Development Plan), there is no industrialization or scalability. Being an aerospace engineer has taught me not to find the right answer. There is no right answer. 

There are only the right questions.

Now, let’s deep dive into your PDP to ensure that your MVP or PoC will not die with you. Let’s make your life scalable and build it on solid foundations. Let’s prepare you for asking the right questions.

Your PDP is the following:

1. Purpose

2. Direction

3. Progress

1. Purpose

You are doing things. Great. You feel like you lack direction. You might get some dopamine hits now and then. Yet you feel like you are lost. 

You are walking in a forest. The mist around you blinds your foggy mind. You might think that you are moving forward. You have no clue why you are going in any specific direction. You stumble and fall. You don’t have the energy to rise again.

The magnetic noise of a white signal pollutes your compass.

Each time you are there, sit down. Breathe. Take a piece of paper and write down the following question:

Why are you doing what you are doing?

Articulate a clear “why.” Use the framework of the Golden Circle by Simon Sinek or anything that can help you create a vivid picture of the answer to that question.

2. Direction

You are running on the escalator. You are giving it your all. Yet you are still. You have never fallen so down. 

Yes, you are going up. At least you are trying. There is only one issue: you are on the escalator going down.

You are always in motion, going from one shiny object to another. You are confusing motion with movement. 

You are spread all over the place. You are a splash of paint dipping on a static wall. 

You are lacking a proper direction. You have found your “why” by having a clear purpose. The next thing to do is build a way to get there by asking the following question:

Where are you going?

Apply the combo of one objective and checkpoints to get there. Clear checkpoints are critical because they will ensure you are on the path to your objective.

3. Progress

You have your why, and you know where you are going. One day, you start walking. Two days after you are running. You never ask yourself how far you are from your initial objective.

Having a clear why and a strong direction are vital elements. Yet, they are not sufficient to get you to transform your PoC into a fully industrialized product. 

You need to know where you started, where you are going, and how far you are from each point. 

The checkpoints will help you answer the following questions:

How are you doing so far?

Always remember that what gets measured gets done.

Final Thoughts

You are not succeeding because of a lack of energy. You are on a failure track because of a lack of purpose, direction, and progress metrics. 

You can win now and then without knowing why. You can stumble on a great path by accident. You can wake up and get there by luck. None of those things matter. It is not something that can be replicated.

You need to build a strong PDP (Purpose, Direction, Progress) to ensure you know why you are doing what you are doing. That will help you select the right direction at the crossroads of life. Use regular checkpoints to measure your progress. 

You don’t want to be that person running through the forest at 100 miles per hour in search of the Graal. Because when you are blindfolded, it is just a matter of time before life punches you in the face. 

Now you have been ward. Act accordingly. 

Use the PDP framework to go from a PoC to an MVP. Use it to scale that MVP to a full-fledged life you will enjoy. 

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