I’ve said for years that industrial designers should have to live and work with their products for six to twelve months before they’re released to the market. It’s much easier to fix the bugs pre-release, but the designers don’t actually use the product, so they don’t see the bugs.
This witty and entertaining 20-minute speech by Seth Godin offers seven reasons why products, systems, organizations, or even mindsets are broken (scroll down to the video):
- Not my job
- Selfish jerks
- The world changed
- I didn’t know
- I’m not a fish
- Broken on purpose
“I’m not a fish” is the one that too-often rules the design world. He shows slides of a culvert designed to transport fish—but designed so fish can’t use it. The industrial designer is unable to think like his or her “customer,” and the project fails.
Some of the others, among them “not my job” and “the world changed” lead to other types of stupidity. Most of them are actual real-life examples—but I’m hoping the photo of a sign that says “Caution: This sign has sharp edges. Do not touch the edges of this sign” in large, dramatic letters, and then in tiny letters, “also, the bridge is out ahead” is a joke.
The seventh item, “broken on purpose,” is about thinking differently—about making your project not only attractive to the right people, but unattractive to the wrong people. If you want to stimulate your brain toward genius, pay careful attention to that segment.