Just finished watching documentary Eames, about the story of Charles and Ray Eames, designers behind many of the iconic american modern designs such as the chair. It’s really nice documentary which captures what made them special, their design process, relationship between Charles and Ray and many interesting anecdotal stories.
I liked their philosophy of design which is to learn by doing something, and no design is possible without rules or constraints (the thing I always think of). Their original design goal was to make “Best for the Most for the Least”, and its impressive that they fulfilled it.
One thought came to mind that the work I do is more or less similar to building a silk road, which allowed ideas, culture, goods to be easily exchanged between east and west and created wealth. Similarly iPod and iPhones are like a tool much like the routes, allowing music, videos, books and applications to be used by millions of people. I think the real value is created by the people who use the tools to make something on top of.
I guess in this context the apple’s mission makes perfect sense,
“As you have probably noticed I’m not an expert on the places I visit, I’m not an authority. I’m a visitor, a traveller, an enthusiast. Travel isn’t always pretty, it isn’t always comfortable. Sometimes it hurts, it even breaks your heart. But thats okay. Journey changes you, it should change you. It leaves makes marks on your memory, in your consciousness, in your heart and on your body. It takes takes something with you and hopefully you leave something good behind.
Where would I end up next, where would be my next journey? Your guess is as good as mine”
-Anthony Bourdain, No Reservations. From the episode on Malaysia, loved his closing remarks.
Jack Dorsey in his interview with Charlie Rose makes an interesting point about ‘constraints’. Twitter with a constraint of 140 characters and Instagram with a constraint of a small square, makes them both intuitive to use and successful.
I think having one such constraint in product development at an early stage, changes the perspective on how we design it. For example, I work on iPods and one big constraint we have face is small battery. This leads to interesting engineering work to overcome the constraint of battery size, and forces us remove unimportant features. I guess this could be generalized to other things. For example, don’t start with assumption that we have access to all the resources. Instead have a constraint on one or two key element and then try to build something. Having a contraint would force us to think differently and focus on solving the important problem.
We tend to massively underestimate the compounding returns of intelligence. As humans, we need to solve big problems. If you graduate Stanford at 22 and Google recruits you, you’ll work a 9-to-5. It’s probably more like an 11-to-3 in terms of hard work. They’ll pay well. It’s relaxing. But what they are actually doing is paying you to accept a much lower intellectual growth rate. When you recognize that intelligence is compounding, the cost of that missing long-term compounding is enormous. They’re not giving you the best opportunity of your life. Then a scary thing can happen: You might realize one day that you’ve lost your competitive edge. You won’t be the best anymore. You won’t be able to fall in love with new stuff. Things are cushy where you are. You get complacent and stall. So, run your prospective engineering hires through that narrative. Then show them the alternative: working at your startup.
I like the idea of compounding intelligence which resonates with the notion of building sustainable competitive advantage. But I don’t agree that one has to work at startup to get that kind of exposure. I work at a large organization, and I’m lucky to learn so much every day, and kind of problems we work on and the impact I can have is not possible at a startup imho. So I think it all depends on individual at the end, whether he / she has growth mindset or not.