Saturday, March 24, 2007
We satisfice. Satisfy plus suffice, which is to say good enough. It's a term economist and Nobel Laureate Herbert A. Simon coined in his 1957 Models of Man to describe the typical human decision-making process by which we go with the first option that offers an acceptable payoff. We'll take whatever seems to meet the bare minimum requirement to achieve the goal. Then we stop looking for the best way to solve the problem. That flies in the face of ingenuity and the pursuit of perfection. In the end, it's selfish, because the customer loses.
I just finished enjoying Matthew May's book on innovation and the pursuit of perfection. If you resonate with the quote I listed above, you will probably enjoy the book too.
Here are a few tidbits that made me think (in my own words):
- Discipline and Creativity are partners, not enemies.
- Force an elegant solution by using paradox in your design goals (for example, in next version of Bee Docs' Timeline, I am trying to find a design that adds more features, while making it even easier for beginners to use).
- Contrary to many urban legends, constant baby steps are almost always the path to breakthrough, not radical new ideas.
- Build tomorrow's solutions to today's problems. There are enough problems in the world, we don't need to build products or businesses that are built around future or speculative problems.
- True innovation leverages every single person in a company. Not just a design guru, or a visionary CEO.
- Reflection is necessary for learning, and is not well practiced in western cultures (or dot-com cultures I would add).
Good stuff, I say. Give it a read and use the comments to let me know what you think of the book.