Six blind folks bump into a mysterious thing. Out of curiosity, they grope it. Person 1 feels its trunk: “It’s soft and long. It’s a snake!” Person 2 feels its ear: “Feels flat and floppy to me. It’s a hand fan.” Person 3 feels its leg: “Nah, it’s tall, round, and rough. It’s a tree […]
Engineers gather to discuss two designs: One for a nuclear reactor and one for a bike shed. The reactor discussion is smooth and short, as people nod in agreement. But the bike shed discussion lasts for hours as engineers sketch layouts, discuss paint colors, and think critically about building materials. Bike-shedding (a.k.a. The Law of […]
The Two Lists acknowledge that everything has a cost. Even junk like a free t-shirt takes up real estate in your drawer, saps mental energy as you actively decide whether to wear it each day, incites guilt as you throw it out, or wastes time as you bring it to Goodwill. It’s an easy concept to overlook, but not creating a List B could come at the cost of List A.
At work, I inherited this tool to help people use a poorly designed product. While the long-term solution was to address core issues in the product, this supporting tool had low-hanging fruit, such as glaring usability holes. Rather than preach about these gaps, I leveraged the ever-relevant heuristic from writing: Show, don’t tell.