There seem to be three layers of affecting a change:
- building a company around a product
- building a company that builds multiple products
- building a company that alters entire culture
My reasoning goes something like this: when you are building a specific product, you've identified a specific problem and are offering a concrete solution for it.
One level up is understanding the interplay between different actors in the system, you being one of them, and learning how to best fit it in a larger picture.
Another way of looking at it would be: building a product, positioning the product, directing market's landscape affecting which solutions can exist and how they could be positioned.
Without talking simply just about abstractions, here're concrete examples that I was thinking about:
the problem: personal organizationg of research papers and overwhelming amount of materials
the solution: a reference management software
positioning: integrations with existing tools and workflows, and additional smart features that make the product more feature-complete, i.e. produtize and monetize on research workflows and necessity to utilize extra tools to achieve certain outcomes
culture shift: how do we change entire research culture so that this problem doesn't even exist so directly - how do we incentivize people to work various types and parts of research, so that, collectively, the community is less overwhelmed because there are more contributors that share knowledge, and how do we incentivize people to build more projects that all play together and make totally dynamic workflows possible
problem: discovering what's on the internet
solution: search engine - you type something and it shows you relevant web pages
positioning: creating a marketplace dynamics where websites compete to be well ranked on your search engine and provide extra services and ads space that charges for premium visibility, i.e. monetize and productize visibility
shift: what software and hardware products can you build that are interconnected and harvest huge amount of data that you can analyse to understand, predict and solve problems that you aren't even yet aware exist, and how can you educate entire communities about benefits of the technology so that the adoption of those products is as easy as possible
problem: building startups is hard
solution: a startup accelerator - training and introductions into the VC ecosystem
positioning: monetize and productize on original and creative companies competing to become part of a somewhat exclussive community of high-quality founders and VCs
educating entire generations of current and future entrepreneurs and VCs about best practices and bad habits, what's healty and sustainable and how to overcome difficulties; and what the ecosystem should even want of dynamics between VCs and founders and what each should deliver and expect
It seems that these layers take the form of answering questions:
- what (are we building)
- how (are we going to build it)
- why (this needs building at all, i.e. how did it come to this being needed at all and what can we do about it)
Another format that is useful for framing the thinking might be:
Considering that there is a problem of ___(the cause of the problem)___, we can ___(strategy)___, and the first step will be building ___(the product)___.