Manipulating Core Values: Minimizing
The opposite to maximizing is minimizing. And minimizing is really interesting 'cause you basically already simplified something down to core value and now you're gonna try and simplify it even more. But can you break that thing into tiny little bite size nuggets and can you then get it out to different people? Or can you make the relationship smaller? So if you have a business, if you're serving many, many, many people. If you have a product that just goes out how do you make that be a very personal interaction? Or if you have quite a complex system, how do you simplify that into just one thing? And if it's a personal core value, then what are you gonna do to deliver that in a really simple but meaningful nugget? So this one's an interesting one. I was running a workshop with a bunch of oil executives and it wasn't only executives, it was oil rig maintenance people from all levels of the organization. I had one guy that was running a team that used to have to go out to the rigs with t...
his really special filter and the filter would clean the pipes, so these are those huge floating oil rigs out on often crazy rough seas, and he come with a problem and the problem was that they lost a lot of money when the seas were rough because this filter had to go out on this huge barge and so it went floating out, you had to wait till the seas were relatively smooth, not only to get the thing out to the offshore rig, but also because you had to then get it with a crane off the barge and onto the rig. So the whole thing's a bit precarious and dodgy and needed to wait till fairly good weather so they were losing a lot of money. Now I'm really into filtration and water, that's my other business. So I was like, oh this filter sounds so interesting, how does it work? And he was running me through the filter. We were also talking about core value. And I said, it sounds really large and I understand the pipes are large, but actually the way the filter works, is there any reason why that exact same awesome filter technology wouldn't work at domestic scale in house? He's like, oh we don't do that, no, no, no, we're oil people. And I'm like well I'm just saying since you own this amazing design, would it, just interested, I'm curious. And he thought about it and he goes, yay it totally would work in house, but that's not what we do, but it's a great filter, it would be a really effective thing to get gungy water and turn it into good water. I'm like, oh how interesting. And then I said to him well you know would this thing break down into components? No, no, no, we build this thing, we ship it out, whatever. Anyway, in about 10 minutes, thinking about this on the side while he was really thinking about what the parts were on this filter, he worked out that he could actually break the filter down, change the scale and have it in enough parts so you could carry it onto the rig in a large suitcase or two. You didn't need a barge. You could actually reconstruct it and will be just as effective and it didn't matter about the weather 'cause it was a person and a bag, no crane, no barge. And he was so excited that he went that was awesome. I've gotta go. I've gotta go work on this now. And he runs. And he sent me a note later going we're still working on that, that's awesome. So the interesting thing about simplification and minimizing is, often we cannot really think about downsizing. Like you know, what is it when we take something we're used to being a certain size and we shrink that thing, like physically shrink. Yeah.
Yeah, when we talk about downsizing, it's generally a failure. I was in the print magazine business and I downsized a lot until it disappeared. So yeah, I mean, downsizing in general can be seen as a failure.
That's so interesting. I never thought of downsizing as a failure. That's cool. Good input because my most successful product was a result of downsizing, but not that downsizing as in we're gonna let everybody go and shrink our company. It was that I was an architect building houses in the middle of a massive drought in Australia and my clients all had beautiful gardens that were worth a lot and suddenly you were fined $200 if you watered your garden. So no one had irrigation systems in place, but they weren't like irrigation systems in the states anyway. You could only do subsurface drip. You could not use a hose. You could not fill a watering can. You had to only use rain water or you would be fined. This all came in pretty much overnight. Everyone was like, oh my garden's gonna die. And most of the places I was dealing with couldn't afford, space wise, to put in one of these massive tanks, plus to put that massive tank in required a permit, like a system thing. You needed a permit and under strain and label laws you had to have two plumbers carry that thing in. So the installation and the trade and install cost was massive and then the space cost of the footprint of this thing was huge. So I'm looking at all these tanks thinking everybody measures the value of these things in dollar per gallon. You need these huge things, holding a ton of rainwater to water these gardens. I kept looking at it thinking, well the value of it is having rainwater at your house for your garden, not really in the dollar per gallon because it's a bigger equation than that. You got these people carrying it in, installing it, the permit and all the other stuff. And that was when I came up with rainwater hog, which was my module rainwater tank, which was only a 50 gallon thing when people were saying, oh you need like 500 gallons to make it work. Right, it was a module, but the beautiful thing was it was right on a single person carry, so one person could carry it in and then I made all the parts on it screw together and DIY so there'd never been a rainwater tank that you could actually put together yourself. And I did one. Basically it got called the Lego block of rainwater harvesting because people called it a water filled block 'cause you could just carry it under your arm and you could carry another one and lo and behold when you set them all up they made up 500 gallons, but they were only this deep. But they lined up along the fence. They didn't compromise any space. Or else they lay down in a crawl space and didn't compromise any space. And it was really interesting because I went against what everybody else had said which was big is best because it's cheapest in terms of storing water, but it's not cheapest in terms of install. It's not cheapest in terms of like saving space. So in my experience with the product downsizing was huge. But I totally hear you, downsizing can be a scary word. That language maybe I need to change. Good point. Yeah, Dillon.
This is kind of tying onto what you said, the results are kind of like risks in a way, like if you look at the iPhone when they said we're gonna make a smaller port, that was so they could add more and more things into the phone that otherwise might not have been possible and they also break down the things and they were able to make the chip smaller to allow for more possibilities and I think it can be bad in the way where if you look at more and more ways you get people to do things, like the scary part of it, maybe look at Tesla and all their layoffs, that's because they hired all those people before they had the technology they do now, so it's kind of downsizing in another way because I guess they've achieved more.
Because they're able to do it with less people.
Because they don't need people to do the jobs anymore because they figured out a better system because they broke everything down smaller.
Right, yes downsizing in this economy is not the word I need. (laughing) That's a really good point. But what we wanna do, we core value. Let's not downsize. Let's just make something either physically smaller or break it into components. So who's got a core value I could try and minimize? I find physical products are easier than services when you talk about minimizing, but we don't want easy, we want thought provoking and thought prodding really. What do we got? Core value, but minimize.
One of my core values is a through line with most of the things that I do is I incorporate collaboration with people because I'm really interested in communication and relationship building to have people work together to like build stuff. Build stuff that's better done in a group than can be achieved individually, so I know that's a lot of words, but I think the core of it is about collaboration and communication. And I'm often trying to think of how to simplify it because when you're working with groups and getting people to kind of work together to achieve a singular goal, it can get kind of messy and hairy, so it'd be good to be able to brainstorm that a bit.
Yeah, that's interesting because when I think about that, that idea of collaboration and group, the whole reason I came up with adventurous thinking as five lenses was 'cause I kinda felt out 'cause I kept hearing about this amazing design thinking and people going out and being able to afford, you know, I was trying to develop products and people could afford to go and imbed like an interviewer and an observer, like two fully paid people in someone's house for like three weeks at a time and then come back and report that a team of ethnographers, wasn't it ethnographers? Would then come up with all this data and then everybody, and I used to think, I am never gonna get ahead because it's just me. I'm this little frugal innovator. I don't have the money for that. I don't have the team. I don't have the infrastructure. But I want that value of brainstorming. You're always talking about brainstorming. I'd be like, I'm a little power of one here. So that was when I tried to come up with this lens system. I was like there must be so many people like me who wanna do this collaboration, but you can't always just grab people from all over the place and go, hey can you just come in and workshop this with me because I really need some out of the box thinking and I need to like challenge myself. And I ended up coming with this lens system, which as it turns out works really, really well as a single person brainstorm. So I feel in a way I'm reaching out to other people for these points of view, but actually within our head there are all these (mumbles) things if we could just access it. Gives us access to a ton of different points of view without ever leaving the house. So I guess what you'd be doing is looking at how you get the best out of people and coming up with a system that could be done by one person or could be done by two people maybe. It could be done by one. I mean, people are constantly trying to work out collaborative things that use like an app or something to prompt. Like I remember first of all trying to come up with an app that was like this random rolling dice and you would shake your phone and this dice would roll and it would pop out just like a little concept or a quick hint or a quote that would make me go oh yeah that's a great idea. It doesn't always work that way, but perhaps that's what you would go to next would be. Would that work?
I think the core value though for me is not about taking the other people out of the process. It's about finding a way to streamline, getting a group of people together because it's hard to get groups of people together.
Oh, like a gathering of the group.
It's the gathering of the group.
Interesting. So how could we minimize the process of gathering people?
How could we streamline the gathering?
Right, 'cause everyone's so busy and everybody does seven million things.
So maybe if you look at this, break it into separate pieces. If you think about that concept that everybody does 10 million things. If you break that gathering into smaller nuggets, perhaps a shorter gathering or another way of delivering it so that people aren't physically in the same spot at the same time, but still do the same thing. Might be it.
Yeah, that might be more along--
I'm just working through all my ways with my tool here 'cause nothing is easy.
That's definitely more the direction I think of minimizing would be about the time commitment or taking the place, taking the fact that you had to be in a physical place at the same time.
Yeah, it's taking the physicalness out of it and maybe even gamifying it. Maybe there's some way of people doing some interaction together and then they gotta work on something separately and then we gotta bring the pieces together again. You know, that's quite fun, 'cause then you have that surprise and delight element of look what I did when you weren't looking, ha ha, you know, and there it is. So that could be a really interesting way to think about what you do everyday. I find it's really great to start with physically imagining taking what you do and reducing it to something small or modular, because taking one aspect of a core value can be really, really hard. But we're all about hard. So this is definitely one that's worth going at especially if you're feeling like you've had that funk for awhile and you wanna really push yourself.