Sea squirts and waterfalls

There’s a strange little underwater invertebrate called a sea squirt. If you saw attached to a rock, you might confuse it with coral, but they’re actually the closest evolutionary relatives we humans have among underwater invertebrates.

an adult sea squirt that has digested its own brain

When they’re young, they look like a tadpole, swimming around looking for a suitable place to live. But once they find an ideal spot, something unusual happens: they start digesting their own brain.

They just don’t need it anymore.

I’m still thinking a lot about the idea that waterfall methodology amounts to a “pledge not to learn anything,” … and sea squirts seemed like a rather dramatic and humorous example of that.

I get it. There’s a certain appeal to a “set it and forget it” mindset of work, but if you’re going to do any kind of product work — and design systems are products — you have to be always learning, always growing.

In other words, sea squirts make terrible product managers.

Jesse Gardner

Up Next: A Lesson in Naming from Minecraft

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