This is one of Ciro Santilli's most important principles.
Steve Jobs has a great quote about this. He's totally right on this one!
You've got to start with the customer experience and work backwards to the technology. You can't start with the technology and try to figure out where you're going to sell it.
Decide your goal first, and then do whatever is needed to how to reach it.
Don't start randomly learning tech, because that means you will waste a lot of time learning useless stuff.
There is of course some level chicken-and-egg paradox in this, as highlighted by Dilbert, since choosing an achievable goal in the first place requires some level of technical understanding.
However, it is much more common that people will get way too involved in learning useless stuff and lose sight of the useful end goals.
Rather, take an iterative approach:
- start with an ambitious end goal
- learn a bit of tech to try and reach it
- realize that you can't reach your end goal and pivot a bit to a related end goal that seems more realistic: the side effects of ambitious goals are often the most valuable thing achieved
There is some truth to the counter argument that "but if you don't spend a lot of time learning the basics, you can never find solutions".
However, these people underestimate your brain. The brain is beautiful, and human intuition is capable of generating interest towards the things that are actually useful to reach your goal. When you feel like learning something related to your goal, by all means, give yourself the time to do so. But this still be much more efficient than just learning random things that other people tell you to learn.
A Coding Horror software specific take on this issue: https://blog.codinghorror.com/please-dont-learn-to-code/
https://www.cartalk.com/content/rant-and-rave-36 "The New Theory of Learning" by Thomas L. Magliozzi section "Premise III: THE BACKWARDS LEARNING THEORY" says the exact same thing. Ciro actually found this by minint