If you design something useful, you’re ninety percent of the way there
Lessons learned about product development
For the first fifteen years of my professional art making career, I focused on creating things that were, first and foremost, interesting and inspiring and entertaining and honest and expressive.
Like philosophies and jokes and books and songs and movies and performances. Because that’s the story I told myself about the purpose of art. Not to solve a problem or accomplish a task, but to communicate a visible manifestation of the soul’s journey. Utility is afterthought.
But I’ll never forget what my designer friend once told me. He said if you design something useful, you’re ninety percent of the way there. And I thought to myself, wow, what an fascinating artistic exercise. I wonder what would happen if challenged myself to create something that was purely functional, and not just beautiful? I wonder how I could convert my intellectual capital into a helpful tool? I wonder if, instead of merely having ideas, I attempted to translate those ideas into a blueprint for a tangible product that was genuinely useful?
This creative exercise invigorated me. It was a completely foreign way of thinking than I was used to. Because it activated the problem solving impetus of my brain, tapping into the linear, binary, black and white, cause and effect faculties, which I don’t typically engage on a daily basis.
The result of this experiment is an exciting new suite of single serving software applications, each of which accomplishes something genuinely useful.
One app is a strategic framework that calculates the rate of return on business assets. Another is a filter for evaluating the potential of a new project. And another is a note taking template that allows you to deliver feedback in more approachable, memorable way.
The point is, I’m energized by the thought of making the world more prolific through my useful creations. It’s a great reason to get out of bed in the morning. And even if nobody cares, even if the software fails miserably, at least I improved my skills, expanded my network, diversified my empire and improved my energy in the process.
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How might you translate your ideas into a blueprint for something genuinely useful?
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That Guy with the Nametag
Author. Speaker. Strategist. Inventor. Filmmaker. Publisher. Songwriter.
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