Tuesday, December 20, 2005

thinker uppers vs idea massagers

I just had a prototype work better than expected. So, on subject of doing versus thinking, here are some thinkings on doing, versus thinking.

The legendary Chris Flink at IDEO described his favorite quote from the also legendary George Nelson as seen here. Says Chris:
"I love this quote. To me it nicely highlights the inherent fragility of even the best conceptual notions and affirms the associated importance of [IDEO's] build/realization capabilities"
Some, like Ernie at the ad firm Tangelo Ideas, might disagree. He posts on the relative importance of "thinker uppers" versus those who put those thoughts into action:

"Yesterday, he [Jackson, his 4-year old] was talking about the stuff he does in pre-school, and how he makes up games for himself, and for his friends to play.... When my wife asked him if the other kids made up games, too. He said, “No, mommy – I’m pretty much the Thinker-Upper.”

"We talked about being a Thinker-Upper. How the world needs good Thinker-Uppers. How everything – from his favorite toy, to the car we drive, to his favorite websites, and the commercials on his favorite programs, is thought up by Thinker-Uppers. He thought that was pretty cool."

For the final word, Greg at daddytypes posts a great essay (rant? hard-won diatribe? you decide) on, of all things, the journey of massaging those ideas into reality, from the perspective of a guy who hears half-baked ideas all the time. A small excerpt here:

"Do you have a prototype or just a drawing, or a CG design? How to you present your idea to people, on the back of a napkin pulled from your pocket [or the equivalent] or in a professional-looking format that shows it's really going to happen and that enables people to grasp it and see how revolutionary it is? This doesn't have to be a slickly produced, glossy brochure, especially if the idea is still in development. But you should be able to to show and explain to someone--use me for an example, if you like--what stage the design is at in a way that allows me to understand its brilliance.

"Then, you need to show it to people and let them tell you you're crazy for reasons X, Y, and Z, and let them tear it apart and give you suggestions on how to improve it. Outsiders you can trust and who have relevant experience and insight--other parents who aren't mouthbreathers, in this case--should be asked to give their feedback and to help you debug your idea.

"Because unless you have a factory in Guangzhou ready and waiting for your wire transfer, your idea is not as ready or as perfect as you think. Design and development and successful realization of an innovation is an iterative process. However many refinements and versions you've gone through to get to the stage you're at now, you should expect to go through dozens, hundreds more to get your product ready for prime time."

Feeling better about my prototype now.

Previous posts on design:

Navel Gazing + bad rock and roll analogy
What design isn't
Target getting it
Nussbaum on design
flux in the design biz
Talking About Design
Simplicity, Design, and Corn
Totally Chaotic!
Premium vs Luxury
Is Innovation Finished Or Isn't It?
Design Lust at Target's Pharmacy
Millenium Challenge 2002 and Design Thinking
Losing The Conversation, Taking It back


Anonymous Anonymous said...

nice one larry.

7:40 PM  

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