I loved Lego as a kid. I had a bucket of the stuff (as most people my age would) and a few specific kits. One I remember was a Batmobile. Sleek and black it was a difficult build with lots of plates, tiles, and connectors that were all on show. Hence the high number of black pieces – they were all visible.
One day I was using the bucket to build something else – I think it was a spacecraft or plane – and was missing some landing wheels. I looked around and realised the Batmobile wheels would be perfect but I was going to have to pull the Batmobile apart to use them. So I did. I’d become unwedded to the idea of the Batmobile and used the parts of it that could be used to create something bigger.
I was reminded of it this week when talking with Rachel Burnham, Michelle Parry-Slater and others about learning stuff. I realised that in my work I have created many Batmobiles. They have existed (and some still do) for whatever duration is required. In the past, I’d have gone and got another model (Millennium Falcon anyone?) and then built it from new. Hours, weeks, months designing the perfect product, polished and sleek.
What I’m doing now – and have done for some time – is pull these new builds apart and put them into my storage buckets of ideas. This is some of the aggregation and sifting activity in curation that I mentioned last time. In these buckets of ideas are dozens of ‘perfect’ vehicles, designs, models and devices. More importantly, the buckets now contain billions of imperfect models that would, in many cases, work just as well as the perfect design.
It makes shopping for ideas easier; I don’t have a perfect model in mind but am looking for things that will fit the materials I’ve already got.
Which begs the question, why do we try and create perfect design each time when the business is often happy with models from the bucket?