The Intersection of Philosophy and Product Development: Maximizing Impact and Understanding Human Nature


Hatched by Glasp

Sep 04, 2023

4 min read


The Intersection of Philosophy and Product Development: Maximizing Impact and Understanding Human Nature


In the world of product development, there are two common fallacies that entrepreneurs often fall victim to: the Next Feature Fallacy and the assumption that the next new feature will suddenly make people use their product. However, by understanding the importance of maximizing reach and incorporating insights from philosophy, entrepreneurs can create products that resonate with users on a fundamental level. This article explores the connection between these concepts and provides actionable advice for entrepreneurs looking to build successful products.

Maximizing Reach and Impact:

When designing features, it is crucial to focus on maximizing reach and impact. The best features often cater to non-users and casual users, as they make up a larger portion of the user base. By targeting this demographic, entrepreneurs can ensure that their product has a broader appeal. However, two common mistakes are often made in this process: too few people use the feature and too little impact is made when they do engage. To overcome these challenges, entrepreneurs must pay close attention to a product's onboarding experience and ensure that it effectively guides users towards activation.

The Engagement Wall:

One key aspect of product development is the concept of the engagement wall. This refers to the point at which users are required to deeply invest in the product and engage with its features. If a product has a multitude of amazing features hidden behind this wall, only a small percentage of users will experience their benefits. Therefore, it is essential to have deep insights into what users need to do to become activated. For example, social networks often focus on getting users to follow or add friends, as this kickstarts a loop that encourages users to return to the platform.

The Philosopher-Entrepreneur:

Philosophy, often seen as an abstract intellectual exercise, can actually provide valuable insights for entrepreneurs. By studying philosophy, particularly the work of philosophers like Wittgenstein, entrepreneurs can gain a deeper understanding of language, communication, and collaboration. This knowledge can be applied to product development, as it helps entrepreneurs improve their understanding of human nature and how individuals evolve in society.

Asking Questions and Developing Theories:

A key technique in philosophy is the act of asking questions and challenging existing ideas. Similarly, in entrepreneurship, it is important to develop a theory of human nature. By understanding how individuals identify themselves, connect with others, and pursue their own version of the good, entrepreneurs can design products that resonate on a fundamental level. The loop between theory and practice is crucial, as it allows entrepreneurs to engage with the world, refine their theories, and create better versions of their products.

Language and the Search for Truth:

In the pursuit of truth, language plays a vital role. Exploring the meaning and implications of language can provide valuable insights and lead to a deeper understanding of philosophical questions. As Friedrich Nietzsche believed, rather than trying to copy the past, entrepreneurs should focus on creating better versions of themselves and their products. By challenging existing norms and creating something new and disruptive, entrepreneurs can make a significant impact in their industries.

Discussion and Knowledge Exchange:

A core aspect of philosophy, dating back to Socrates, is the act of discussion and knowledge exchange. By sharing, exchanging, and challenging thoughts, individuals can develop a greater understanding of complex concepts. This applies to product development as well. Finding time for discussions, whether in person or through virtual platforms like Zoom, can be a powerful tool for building greater understanding and refining ideas.

Actionable Advice:

  • 1. Focus on maximizing reach by targeting non-users and casual users. Consider their needs and create features that cater to their preferences.
  • 2. Pay close attention to the onboarding experience to ensure users are properly guided towards activation. Identify the key actions users need to take to experience the full benefits of the product.
  • 3. Continuously refine your theories through engagement with the market. Embrace the loop between theory and practice, and always be open to refining your ideas based on real-world feedback.


By combining the principles of maximizing reach and impact with insights from philosophy, entrepreneurs can create products that truly resonate with users. Understanding human nature, engaging in discussions, and continuously refining theories are crucial steps in building successful and impactful products. By incorporating these actionable advice, entrepreneurs can navigate the complexities of product development and increase their chances of building products that stand the test of time.

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