Innovation Inspiration #012—Break Something

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If you didn’t do this at least once in each of the three previous exercises (fix, modify, and make something), you weren’t doing them hard enough, but you still need to break something on purpose.

No, I’m not kidding. The cardinal rule, however, is it must be something you own.

It should be something you think you can repair (read: eggs don’t count).

If it’s something you are 100% sure can’t be repaired, that will make it a little more interesting. Bud only do this with things that you want to learn something from. “What’s on the inside?” and “Since I can’t reassemble it, how the devil did they assemble it in the first place?” are laudable reasons.

In the above case, it’s best if you have two identical or similar objects. The first you should break, open, or tear apart without any assistance from instructions. You must, however, do so carefully and methodically, using your best hunches and previous experience about how to open it without breaking it. It’s OK if it still breaks. Get it open, see if you can figure out if there would have been a different method that would have opened it without damage, and then go look for the instructions, google around for hacker’s guides, and look for specialized tools that can help you open the second item without damage.

The goals are simple, if not all obvious:

  • To relieve stress and vent frustration.
  • Learn that it’s OK to break the rules.
  • Learn how to figure out the correct procedure on your own.
  • Learn how evil it is to design something that can’t be repaired, and how that makes the owner of the object feel.

There are a few other goals of course, and likely several that haven’t occurred to me, but which I would praise if I heard them.

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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