Moving the Big Rocks

The world lost Stephen Covey recently. Although the cult-like admiration of some of his followers always weirded me out a little, I think he had some great lessons to teach us. His picturesque language describing things like “moving the big rocks” helps provide tactics for dealing with real-world challenges like prioritization. I moved some limestone around the yard this summer and, regrettably, didn’t find much applicability of that particular lesson, but it is one I have tried to apply to my work and side projects.

I’m actively working on a side project nearing its two year mark now. The subject, generally speaking, is textual data mining and predictive analytics. I’m having a blast, and hoping to turn a corner and launch my software to at least a limited audience this fall. At this point, I need to come up from programming for some air to get some ducks in a row on the business side. I’m expecting to have to build my brand recognition and a customer list, but based on my reading of the market, the demand for a general-purpose SaaS solution is there. Twitter reported in the past that as many as 60% of all Tweets are never read by a person. Social media networks, interactive forums, and internal business systems have a ton of user-generated textual content that isn’t leveraged much beyond waiting for someone to come across it in a search or file listing.

Some of the big rocks I’ve been moving are: defining a business problem, creating a software architecture to support a solution, prototyping workflows and user experience, researching industry challenges, analyzing SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats), and building my professional network. It’s been a tremendous learning opportunity and I’m definitely looking forward to seeing what’s next.