"Is it a fact, or is it an opinion?" That's a question I find myself asking a lot, both at work, and in my personal life. It's easy to state our opinions. We see something, we make a judgment rooted in our experiences, and the words come out. Truth, on the other hand, takes time. Getting to the truth requires more listening than talking. It means being open to learning, having perspective, and uncovering nuance. It takes introspection and consideration. In software development, teams latch on to catchphrases like "fail fast" or "move fast and break things." These philosophies encourage organizations to build and release software quickly. However, they also hinder the teams' ability to interpret the environment before it becomes altered by their solutions. In my search for truth, I ask whether a statement is a fact or opinion because I want to know whether folks have taken time to consider nuance and perspective.
Since joining Axon, something I have learned is that first responders often don't have much time. Depending on the information they are told, they must move at varying rates of “fast”. The need for lights and sirens doesn't make the truth any less important though. My team is building software that provides first responders with information before they get on the scene. While we can't ensure that the citizens who report incidents are truthful, we can equip first responders with tools that lead to identifying the truth. Neither Axon nor first responders can afford to "fail fast" when it comes to actually saving lives.
I've talked with a lot of software development folks in my product management career, whether it be at conferences, in interviews, or online. There's often a desire for product managers to have some grandiose vision or some fantastic solution that can be proven significant through iteration. The truth is, I don't know all the answers on how software can save lives. My grandiose vision is that I will help build and collaborate with a diverse and thoughtful team that's open to learning with me about all the problems that exist in and around public safety. I am fortunate to be working with the most diverse team I have ever worked with and as Axon and my team continue to grow, I'm hopeful that we will be able to encourage even more diversity. To truly save lives, we'll need to ensure that we remember that truth is not as easy as listening to one person's opinion or perspective. Truth is much more complex and challenging, but discovering it is essential.