Innovation Inspiration #005—Share Incomplete Work

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It’s OK to be a perfectionist.

But it’s not OK to not share your work until it’s perfect.

The point to sharing in-progress work early is to obtain input, inspiration, and innovation that will make it better—not to seek approval or congratulations.

(Although it is an awesome idea to solicit enough of a yea/nay response to make sure you’re headed in roughly the right direction, so you can avoid wasting time on something that won’t meet the needs at all.)

It’s a form of brainstorming, but without the designed-by-committee side-effects.

Think about Apple Computer, and the Two Steves.

Have you ever seen an original Apple I?

It was sold as an assembled motherboard, for $666.66.

The buyer still had to separately acquire, a keyboard, power supply, power switch, and build their own case. If you wanted storage, that was an additional $75 circuit board, and you still had to provide your own cassette recorder.

And they showed it off in public like this, at the Homebrew Computer Club.

Then they advertised and sold it like that—with full-page print ads showing just the bare motherboard.

Were it not for the feedback they received from these public showings, the Apple II would not have been as good, and it might never even have existed.

(And never let anyone design the next iteration of your creation by committee, unless you want it to be about as useful and successful as the Apple III.)

Random Ramsey

This is not quite dead-bug style, but close enough. It mostly works, but not quite as expected.

There are many things wrong or incomplete about this, but I’m still going to show it off to a co-worker for input.

  • I haven’t installed it in a case.
  • There’s no power-on indicator LED.
  • None of the buttons are the right type.
  • One of the buttons isn’t even the right color.
  • Nothing is labeled.
  • I didn’t bother to type in the provided BASIC program before stuffing the resistors that control timing, so have no idea what range of results I should expect.
  • I haven’t wired up the polarity-reversing input switch and jack.

But it’s complete enough to share a picture and a frustrating discovery.

That the Maker Shed, at least at the Maker Faire, does not offer stranded hook-up wire, just solid. Bizarre. But that will be the topic of another post.

You might have noticed that I haven’t shared any details about what I’m building. It’s irrelevant for this post—the sole point is to illustrate by example that you can get over your fear of sharing incomplete projects and not feel embarrassed in the process.

Author: Peter Sheerin

Peter Sheerin is best known for the decade he spent as the Technical Editor of CADENCE magazine, where he was the acknowledged expert in Computer-Aided Design hardware and software. He has a long-standing passion for improving usability of software, hardware, and everyday objects that is always interwoven in his articles. Peter is available for freelance technical writing and product reviews, and is exploring career opportunities in interaction design. His pet personal project is exploring the best ways to harmonize visual, tactile, and audible symbols for improving the effectiveness of alerting systems.

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