The other day my wife said she wished she had a searchable list of ingredients, recipes, and where to buy the ingredients at the right prices & quality. For instance, she made some soup and had a ton of celery left over. What other recipes do we regularly eat, or are close to what we eat, so that she could use the rest of the celery? With 7 picky eaters, you can’t deviate much from our normal litany of foods.
It had to be simple, quick, handy, and flexible.
So I wrote an app for her to use on her iPhone so that she can just type in “Celery” and get a listing of all of her recipes that use celery. When she clicks on Celery, she gets a listing of the area stores that sell acceptable celery and the latest prices.
OK, That’s not true.
That would be silly and stupid and a terrible waste of time and resources! It’s celery for goodness sake!
But that is what dozens and dozens of businesses do every day. Somebody rattles off what they want their system to do, and then a group of workers under them or hired consultants sets out to create an elaborate, custom made solution tailored to their every preference.
Do We Even Know We Are In A Box?
The management team might think they were really thinking outside the box by developing a new custom solution. I might think I was really creative by writing a Celery tracking app for my wife. The true part of that story is that my wife really did say that she wanted all of that stuff. She had the app in front of her the whole time: the address book.
She doesn’t use the address book on her iPod touch anyway, so she just started putting in contacts:
• Fresh Mushrooms
• Whole Wheat spaghetti noodles
and now whenever she wants to look something up, she does a search and there it is.
I think a lot of businesses would benefit from stepping back from custom solutions and bells and whistles and push notifications and responsive design and just ask the simple questions.
What do we need?
Why do we need that?
After asking that enough, your team will sift away all of the bulky custom junk that complicates your work and you’ll be able to spend more time on doing your work, rather than trying to develop a complicated solution to make your work easier.