Powerful insights about building long-lasting work.
"Chances are those companies will still exist in ten years. Whatever changes I will have to make to this book in later editions, I have little doubt that, barring some tragedy, the Pantry, Shawshank , Iron Maiden, and Zildjian will still be going strong. They are examples of a phenomenon known in economics as the Lindy effect. * Named after a famous restaurant where showbiz types used to meet to discuss trends in the industry, it observes that every day something lasts, the chances that it will continue to last increase. Or as the investor and writer Nassim Taleb has put it, “If a book has been in print for forty years, I can expect it to be in print for another forty years. But, and that is the main difference, if it survives another decade, then it will be expected to be in print another fifty years. . . . Every year that passes without extinction doubles the additional life expectancy.”
"We must set out, from the beginning, with complete and total commitment to the idea that our best chance of success starts during the creative process. The decisions and behaviors that bring you to creating the product—everything you do before you sit down to build whatever it is you’re building—trump any individual marketing decisions, no matter how attention-grabbing they turn out to be. And, as we’ll see later, those creative decisions can be critical marketing decisions in themselves."
"If you are trying to make something great, you must do the making: That work cannot be outsourced to someone else. You can’t hire your friends to do it for you. There is no firm that can produce a timeless work of art on your behalf for a flat fee. It’s not about finding the right partner, the right investor, the right patron—not yet anyway. Collaboration is essential, but if this is your project, the hard work will fall on you. There is just no way around it."
"Creating is often a solitary experience. Yet work made entirely in isolation is usually doomed to remain lonely."
"One of the best pieces of advice I’ve gotten as a creator was from a successful writer who told me that the key to success in nonfiction was that the work should be either “very entertaining” or “extremely practical.” Notice they didn’t say, “Should be very fulfilling to you personally” or “Should make you look super smart” or “Capitalize on some big trend.” Those concerns are either secondary or implied. It’s better to be focused on those two timeless use cases of enjoyability or utility."
"When it comes to feedback, I think Neil Gaiman’s advice captures the right attitude: “Remember: When people tell you something’s wrong or doesn’t work for them, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what they think is wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong.”"
"Positioning is what your project is and who it is for.
Packaging is what it looks like and what it’s called.
The Pitch is the sell—how the project is described and what it offers to the audience."
"In my definition, a platform is the combination of the tools, relationships, access, and audience that you have to bring to bear on spreading your creative work—not just once, but over the course of a career. So a platform is your social media and the stage you stand on, but it also includes your friends, your body of work, the community your work exists in, the media outlets and influencers who appreciate what you do, your email list, the trust you’ve built, your sources of income, and countless other assets. A platform is what you cultivate and grow not just through your creative work, but for your creative work, whatever it may be."
Read it! A wonderful and inspiring look into Leonardo Da Vinci's curiosity, inner self, and pursuit of making exceptional stuff.
"His notebooks have many other maxims praising the countryside and solitude. “Leave your family and friends and go over the mountains and valleys into the country,” he instructed aspiring painters. “While you are alone you are entirely your own master.”
These paeans to country living are romantic and, for those who cherish the image of lonely genius, quite appealing. But they are infused with fantasy. Leonardo would spend almost all of his career in Florence, Milan, and Rome, crowded centers of creativity and commerce, usually surrounded by students, companions, and patrons. He rarely retreated alone to the countryside for an extended period of solitude. Like many artists, he was stimulated by being with people of diverse interests and (willing to contradict himself in his notebooks) declared, “Drawing in company is much better than alone.” The impulses of his grandfather life, were imprinted in Leonardo’s imagination but not practiced in his life."
"He turned out to be good in geometry, but he never mastered the use of equations or the rudimentary algebra that existed at the time. Nor did he learn Latin. In his thirties he would still be trying to remedy this deficiency by drawing up lists of Latin words, painstakingly writing out awkward translations, and wrestling with grammar rules.
A left-hander, Leonardo wrote from right to left on a page, the opposite direction of the words on this and other normal pages, and drew each letter facing backward. “They are not to be read save with a mirror,” as Vasari described these pages. Some have speculated that he adopted this script as a code to keep his writings secret, but that is not true; it can be read, with or without a mirror. He wrote that way because when using his left hand he could glide leftward across the page without smudging the ink. The practice was not completely uncommon. When his friend the mathematician Luca Pacioli described Leonardo’s mirror writing, he made the point that some other left-handers wrote likewise."
"He sought to portray not only moti corporali, the motions of the body, but also how they related to what he called “atti e moti mentali,” the attitudes and motions of the mind. 41 More important, he was a master at connecting the two. This is most noticeable in his action-packed and gesture-filled narrative works, such as the Adoration and The Last Supper. But it is also the genius behind his most serene portraits, most notably the Mona Lisa.
[...] Leonardo was deeply influenced by Alberti’s book, and he repeatedly echoed that injunction in his own notebooks. “The good painter has to paint two principal things, man and the intention of his mind,” he wrote. “The first is easy and the second is difficult, because the latter has to be represented through gestures and movements of the limbs.”"
"His letter to Ludovico is thus best regarded not as a reliable catalogue of his actual engineering accomplishments but instead as a glimpse into his hopes and ambitions. Nevertheless, his boasts were not completely hollow. Had they been, he would have been easily exposed in a city where weapon design was a deadly serious endeavor. After settling into Milan, he would in fact begin to pursue military engineering earnestly and come up with some innovative concepts for machines, even as he continued to dance around the line between ingenuity and fantasy."
"In order to make his drawing an informative work of science, Leonardo could have used a simplified figure of a man. Instead, he used delicate lines and careful shading to create a body of remarkable and unnecessary beauty. With its intense but intimate stare and the curls of hair that Leonardo flight. There is nothing static except the calm torso, with subtle cross-hatch shadings behind it. Yet despite the sense of motion, there is a natural and comfortable feel to the man. The only slightly awkward positioning is of his left foot, which is twisted outward to provide a measurement guide."
"As I hope you will by now agree, Leonardo was a genius, one of the few people in history who indisputably deserved—or, to be more precise, earned —that appellation. Yet it is also true that he was a mere mortal. The most obvious evidence that he was human rather than superhuman is the trail of projects he left unfinished. Among them were a horse model that archers reduced to rubble, an Adoration scene and battle mural that were abandoned, flying machines that never flew, tanks that never rolled, a river that was never diverted, and pages of brilliant treatises was ever done,” he repeatedly scribbled in notebook after notebook. “Tell me. Tell me. Tell me if ever I did a thing. . . . Tell me if anything was ever made.”
Of course, the things he did finish were enough to prove his genius. The Mona Lisa alone does that, as do all of his art masterpieces as well as his anatomical drawings. But by the end of writing this book, I even began to appreciate the genius inherent in his designs left unexecuted and masterpieces left unfinished. By skirting the edge of fantasy with his flying machines and water projects and military devices, he envisioned what innovators would invent centuries later. And by refusing to churn out works that he had not perfected, he sealed his reputation as a genius rather than a master craftsman. He enjoyed the challenge of conception more than the chore of completion."
"The fact that Leonardo was not only a genius but also very human—quirky and obsessive and playful self-taught and willed his way to his genius. So even though we may never be able to match his talents, we can learn from him and try to be more like him. His life offers a wealth of lessons.
Be curious, relentlessly curious. [...]
Seek knowledge for its own sake. [...]
Retain a childlike sense of wonder. [...]
Start with the details. [...]
See things unseen. [...]
Go down rabbit holes. [...]
Get distracted. [...]
Respect facts. [...]
Let the perfect be the enemy of the good. [...]
Think visually. [...]
Avoid silos. [...]
Let your reach exceed your grasp. [...]
Indulge fantasy. [...]
Create for yourself, not just for patrons. [...]
Make lists. [...]
Take notes, on paper. [...]
Be open to mistery. [...]"
A wonderful book about our language and thought structures; and how they interact with the reality around us.
"The essence of metaphor is understanding and experiencing one kind of thing in terms of another."
"The idea that metaphors can create realities goes against most traditional views of metaphor. The reason is that metaphor has traditionally been viewed as a matter of mere language rather than primarily as a means of structuring our conceptual system and the kinds of everyday activities we perform. It is reasonable enough to assume that words alone don't change reality. But changes in our conceptual system do change what is real for us and affect how we perceive the world and act upon those perceptions."
"Within the experientialist myth, understanding emerges from interaction, from constant negotiation with the environment and other people. It emerges in the following way: the nature of our bodies and our physical and cultural environment imposes a structure on our experience, in terms of natural dimensions of the sort we have discussed. Recurrent experience leads to the formation of categories, which are experiential gestalts with those natural dimensions. Such gestalts define coherence in our experience. We understand our experience directly when we see it as being structured coherently in terms of gestalts that have emerged directly from interaction with and in our environment. We understand experience metaphorically when we use a gestalt from one domain of experience to structure experience in another domain."
Ultra relevant for those who want to develop intellectual depth and to be more productive.
"The Deep Work Hypothesis: The ability to perform deep work is becoming increasingly rare at exactly the same time it is becoming increasingly valuable in our economy. As a consequence, the few who cultivate this skill, and then make it the core of their working life, will thrive."
"This brings us to the question of what deliberate practice actually requires. Its core components are usually identified as follows: (1) your attention is focused tightly on a specific skill you’re trying to improve or an idea you’re trying to master; (2) you receive feedback so you can correct your approach to keep your attention exactly where it’s most productive."
"If you’re comfortable going deep, you’ll be comfortable mastering the increasingly complex systems and skills needed to thrive in our economy. If you instead remain one of the many for whom depth is uncomfortable and distraction ubiquitous, you shouldn’t expect these systems and skills to come easily to you."
"Deep work is at a severe disadvantage in a technopoly because it builds on values like quality, craftsmanship, and mastery that are decidedly old-fashioned and nontechnological. Even worse, to support deep work often requires the rejection of much of what is new and high-tech. Deep work is exiled in favor of more distracting high-tech behaviors..."
"Many assume that they can switch between a state of distraction and one of concentration as needed, but as I just argued, this assumption is optimistic: Once you’re wired for distraction, you crave it."
"First , distraction remains a destroyer of depth. Therefore, the hub-and-spoke model provides a crucial template. Separate your pursuit of serendipitous encounters from your efforts to think deeply and build on these inspirations. You should try to optimize each effort separately, as opposed to mixing them together into a sludge that impedes both goals. Second , even when you retreat to a spoke to think deeply, when it’s reasonable to leverage the whiteboard effect, do so. By working side by side with someone on a problem, you can push each other toward deeper levels of depth, and therefore toward the generation of more and more valuable output as compared to working alone."
"The deep life, of course, is not for everybody. It requires hard work and drastic changes to your habits. For many, there’s a comfort in the artificial busyness of rapid e-mail messaging and social media posturing, while the deep life demands that you leave much of that behind. There’s also an uneasiness that surrounds any effort to produce the best things you’re capable of producing, as this forces you to confront the possibility that your best is not (yet) that good. It’s safer to comment on our culture than to step into the Rooseveltian ring and attempt to wrestle it into something better. But if you’re willing to sidestep these comforts and fears, and instead struggle to deploy your mind to its fullest capacity to create things that matter, then you’ll discover, as others have before you, that depth generates a life rich with productivity and meaning."
An enlightening, inspiring and beautiful journey about learning, probably one of the most relevant skills to cultivate.
"In the long run, painful losses may prove much more valuable than wins—those who are armed with a healthy attitude and are able to draw wisdom from every experience, “good” or “bad,” are the ones who make it down the road. They are also the ones who are happier along the way. Of course the real challenge is to stay in range of this long-term perspective when you are under fire and hurting in the middle of the war. This, maybe our biggest hurdle, is at the core of the art of learning."
"My search for the essential principles lying at the hearts of and connecting chess, the martial arts, and in a broader sense the learning process, was inspired to a certain extent by Robert Pirsig’sZen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance . I’ll never forget a scene that would guide my approach to learning for years to come. The protagonist of Pirsig’s story, a brilliant if eccentric man named Phaedrus, is teaching a rhetoric student who is all jammed up when given the assignment to write a five-hundredword story about her town. She can’t write a word. The town seems so small, so incidental—what could possibly be interesting enough to write about? Phaedrus liberates the girl from her writer’s block by changing the assignment. He asks her to write about the front of the opera house outside her classroom on a small street in a small neighborhood of that same dull town. She should begin with the upper-left hand brick. At first the student is incredulous, but then a torrent of creativity unleashes and she can’t stop writing. The next day she comes to class with twenty inspired pages. I believe this little anecdote has the potential to distinguish success from failure in the pursuit of excellence. The theme is depth over breadth. The learning principle is to plunge into the detailed mystery of the micro in order to understand what makes the macro tick."
"Grandmasters know how to make the subtlest cracks decisive. The only thing to do was become immune to the pain, embrace it, until I could work through hours of mind-numbing complexities as if I were taking a lovely walk in the park. The vise, after all, was only in my head. I spent years working on this issue, learning how tomaintain the tension—becoming at peace with mounting pressure. Then, as a martial artist, I turned this training to my advantage, making my opponents explode from mental combustion because of my higher threshold for discomfort. In every discipline, the ability to be clearheaded, present, cool under fire is much of what separates the best from the mediocret. In competition, the dynamic is often painfully transparent. If one player is serenely present while the other is being ripped apart by internal issues, the outcome is already clear."
Valuable perspectives for a bolder and more purposeful design, and, so to speak, less user-centric. In addition to his books, I had classes and conversations with Verganti. I love his job.
"The more you create bridges to worlds that are relevant for your users but that are unusual for your competitors, the more you have a chance to end up with breakthrough proposals."
"How does radical innovation of meanings occur? [...], Ernesto Gismondi has been clear: “Market? What market! We do not look at market needs. We make proposals to people.” Gismondi is saying that radical innovation does not occur when companies get closer to users and understand what they currently need. He is not alone. Executives who have invested in radical innovation of meaning acknowledge that rather than start with user needs, the process goes in the opposite direction: the company proposes a breakthrough vision."
"The best way to attract key interpreters and empower their expressions and visions is to pay them back not merely in cash but with assets: technological capabilities, experimentation ground, seductive power (the capability to deliver a new message to the market because of your brand and distribution channels), and your own knowledge of meanings. In other words, if you want to be more attractive to interpreters, you need to be an interpreter yourself. That is why I talk about participating in the design discourse, and not simply exploiting it. You need to have a vision—something to say to the design discourse—and bring assets to the table."
"Another important criterion that firms can use to select ideas to pursue—used intensively, for example, by Bang & Olufsen—is a product’s have a distinctive language and a personality that can survive aging? Does it satisfy deeper needs and earn people’s loyalty? Is it clearly linked with the company’s brand identity so that imitators can appropriate only little value through imitation? Does it help start a learning process for the firm and an interaction with the design discourse that could last for a while? In other words, to what extent does the product help build a firm’s long-term assets."
"For a company to hold to the path initially envisioned, the key is leadership. “This process is not democratic,” says Lowie Vermeersch, a chief designer at Pininfarina, well-known automotive design and engineering firm. “To design distinctive products with a clear personality, you need a leader to protect that personality.”"
About our [in]ability to understand other people.
"One word: construction. You are consciously aware of your brain’s finished products—conscious attitudes, beliefs, intentions, and feelings—but are unaware of the processes your brain went through to construct those final products, and you are therefore unable to recognize its mistakes."
"The problem with a lens is that you look through it rather than at it, and so your own perspective doesn’t seem unique until someone else informs you otherwise."
"Our impressions about the minds of others seem to reflect the world we observe. Stereotypes, in this way, seem like mirrors. But our stereotypes about other people can also affect the world we observe, and in this way can also act like magnets. Our belief that groups are opposed to each other may push those groups even further apart in our minds than they are in reality, leading to stereotypes that exaggerate genuine differences between groups. Our belief that groups differ can also push the targets of these stereotypes to behave in ways that are consistent with them."
"The more unpredictable an object, the more mindful it appears."
One of the most important books I have ever read. It will help you reflect on much of what you do [or don't do], and give you valuable directions to build a better self.
"This paradox of rising expectations suggets that improving the quality of life might be an insurmountable task. In fact, there is no inherent problem in our desire to escalate our goals, as long as we enjoy the struggle along the way. The problem arises when people are so fixated on what on what they want to achieve that they cease to derive pleasure from the present. When that happens, they forfeit their chance of contentment."
"Some people learn to use this priceless resource [attention] efficiently, while others waste it. The mark of a person who is in control of consciousness is the ability to focus attention at will, to be oblivious to distractions, to concentrate for as long as it takes to achieve a goal, and not longer."
"The self becomes complex as a result of experiencing flow. Paradoxically, it is when we act freely, for the sake of the action itself rather than for ulterior motives, that we learn to become more than what we were. When we choose a goal and invest ourselves in it to the limits of our concentration, whatever we do will be enjoyable. And once we have tasted this joy, we will redouble our efforts to taste it again. This is the way the self grows."
"So loss of self-consciousness does not involve a loss of self, and certainly not a loss of consciousness, but rather, only a loss of consciousness of the self. What slips below the threshold of awareness is the concept of self, the information we use to represent to ourselves who we are. And being able to forget temporarily who we are seems to be very enjoyable. When not preoccupied with our selves, we actually have a chance to expand the concept of who we are. Loss of self-consciousness can lead to self-transcendence, to a feeling that the boundaries of our being have been pushed forward."
"We don’t usually notice how little control we have over the mind, because habits channel psychic energy so well that thoughts seem to follow each other by themselves without a hitch. After sleeping we regain consciousness in the morning when the alarm rings, and then walk to the bathroom and brush our teeth. The social roles culture prescribes then take care of shaping our minds for us, and we generally place ourselves on automatic pilot till the end of the day, when it is time again to lose consciousness in sleep. But when we are left alone, with no demands on attention, the basic disorder of the mind reveals itself. With nothing to do, it begins to follow random patterns, usually stopping to consider something painful or disturbing. Unless a person knows how to give order to his or her thoughts, attention will be attracted to whatever is most problematic at the moment: it will focus on some real or imaginary pain, on recent grudges or long-term frustrations. Entropy is the normal state of consciousness—a condition that is neither useful nor enjoyable. To avoid this condition, people are naturally eager to fill their minds with whatever information is readily available, as long as it distracts attention from turning inward and dwelling on negative feelings."
"In philosophy as in other disciplines there comes a point where a person is ready to pass from the status of passive consumer to that of active producer. To write down one’s insights expecting that someday they will be read with awe by posterity would be in most cases an act of hubris, that “overweening presumption” that has caused so much mischief in human affairs. But if one records ideas in response to an inner challenge to express clearly the major questions by which one feels confronted, and tries to sketch out answers that will help make sense of one’s experiences, then the amateur philosopher will have learned to derive enjoyment from one of the most difficult and rewarding tasks of life."
"The “autotelic self” is one that easily translates potential threats into enjoyable challenges, and therefore maintains its inner harmony. A person who is never bored, seldom anxious, involved with what goes on, and in flow most of the time may be said to have an autotelic self. The term literally means “a self that has self-contained goals,” and it reflects the idea that such an individual has relatively few goals that do not originate from within the self. For most people, goals are shaped directly by biological needs and social conventions, and therefore their origin is outside the self. For an autotelic person, the primary goals emerge from experience evaluated in consciousness, and therefore from the self proper."
A pragmatic perspective to a more disciplined life. Even if you do not relate to [frequent] analogies and examples of warriors/warfare, the book can help you develop a more productive routine and ability to deal with stressful situations.
"The word discipline should be defined before we go further. Common definitions include:
"Stress is so often cited as the cause for poor health, breakdowns, and lack of success. The prevailing view in society is that stress acts on you insidiously and you are its helpless victim. How often do you think these thoughts, or say them out loud?
It’s a myth that stress is your problem. Your real problem is believing that stress is the source of all your woes. In my early twenties, I was there, I know what this is like and how it feels, and I know how easy it is to fall into this trap. Now that you understand that your mind can be either a feisty fiend or friendly ally, you can see that how we react to stress is actually a story we tell ourselves. Change the story, and you will change how stressors affect you and your life. To change our story about stress, let's use the process we learned in the last chapter:
"Now let's again turn to my favorite training tool, which develops the relaxation breath and skill of concentration simultaneously. I named it Box Breathing in 2007 when I introduced the technique because the pattern of the breath is a 1-1-1-1 ratio, shaped like a box. Start by exhaling all of the air from the lungs. Now inhale to a count of five, and then retain and hold your breath to a count of five. Don’t clamp down and create back-pressure with this hold. Just stop the inhale but continue the upward rise of the chest. After the retention, exhale the air slowly to a count of five, and then suspend and hold the exhaled breath for a count of five. For a more profound impact with your box breathing training, add a powerful jingle/mantra on each hold, such as "getting better and better, stronger and unfettered." This practice is offered in audio format in the first lesson of the Unbeatable Mind Academy. Doing the practice at least once a day for 5 to 10 minutes is enough, though I enjoy longer sessions of 20 minutes a few times a week. The technique can be used in short 1-3 minute “spot drills” several times a day or before an important meeting or event."
"The process is similar to the witness process for mental control described earlier. It is simple in concept. But there’s nothing easy about it. Emotional resiliency takes patience and courage to develop. Here’s how to do it.
A great introduction about our power [and responsibility] to influence other people's behavior.
"A choice architect has the responsibility for organizing the context in which people make decisions."
"...small and apparently insignificant details can have major impacts on people’s behavior. A good rule of thumb is to assume that “everything matters.” In many cases, the power of these small details comes from focusing the attention of users in a particular direction."
"Libertarian paternalists want to make it easy for people to go their own way; they do not want to burden those who want to exercise their freedom. The paternalistic aspect lies in the claim that it is legitimate for choice architects to try to influence people’s behavior in order to make their lives longer, healthier, and better."
"A nudge, as we will use the term, is any aspect of the choice architecture that alters people’s behavior in a predictable way without forbidding any options or significantly changing their economic incentives. To count as a mere nudge, the intervention must be easy and cheap to avoid. Nudges are not mandates. Putting the fruit at eye level counts as a nudge. Banning junk food does not."
Great insights for crafting impactful messages and campaigns.
"By “stick,” we mean that your ideas are understood and remembered, and have a lasting impact—they change your audience’s opinions or behavior."
"PRINCIPLE 1: SIMPLICITY
How do we find the essential core of our ideas? A successful defense lawyer says, “If you argue ten points, even if each is a good point, when they get back to the jury room they won’t remember any.” To strip an idea down to its core, we must be masters of exclusion. We must relentlessly prioritize. Saying something short is not the mission—sound bites are not the ideal. Proverbs are the ideal. We must create ideas that are both simple and profound. The Golden Rule is the ultimate model of simplicity: a one-sentence statement so profound that an individual could spend a lifetime learning to follow it.
PRINCIPLE 2: UNEXPECTEDNESS
How do we get our audience to pay attention to our ideas, and how do we maintain their interest when we need time to get the ideas across? We need to violate people’s expectations. We need to be counterintuitive. A bag of popcorn is as unhealthy as a whole day’s worth of fatty foods! We can use surprise—an emotion whose function is to increase alertness and cause focus—to grab people’s attention. But surprise doesn’t last. For our idea to endure, we must generate interest and curiosity . How do you keep students engaged during the forty-eighth history class of the year? We can engage people’s curiosity over a long period of time by systematically “opening gaps” in their knowledge—and then filling those gaps.
PRINCIPLE 3: CONCRETENESS
How do we make our ideas clear? We must explain our ideas in terms of human actions, in terms of sensory information. This is where so much business communication goes awry. Mission statements, synergies, strategies, visions—they are often ambiguous to the point of being meaningless. Naturally sticky ideas are full of concrete images—ice-filled bathtubs, apples with razors—because our brains are wired to remember concrete data. In proverbs, abstract truths are often encoded in concrete language: “A bird in hand is worth two in the bush.” Speaking concretely is the only way to ensure that our idea will mean the same thing to everyone in our audience.
PRINCIPLE 4: CREDIBILITY
How do we make people believe our ideas? When the former surgeon general C. Everett Koop talks about a public-health issue, most people accept his ideas without skepticism. But in most day-to-day situations we don’t enjoy this authority. Sticky ideas have to carry their own credentials. We need ways to help people test our ideas for themselves—a “try before you buy” philosophy for the world of ideas. When we’re trying to build a case for something, most of us instinctively grasp for hard numbers. But in many cases this is exactly the wrong approach. In the sole U.S. presidential debate in 1980 between Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter, Reagan could have cited innumerable statistics demonstrating the sluggishness of the economy. Instead, he asked a simple question that allowed voters to test for themselves: “Before you vote, ask yourself if you are better off today than you were four years ago.”
PRINCIPLE 5: EMOTIONS
How do we get people to care about our ideas? We make them feel something. In the case of movie popcorn, we make them feel disgusted by its unhealthiness. The statistic “37 grams” doesn’t elicit any emotions. Research shows that people are more likely to make a charitable gift to a single needy individual than to an entire impoverished region. We are wired to feel things for people, not for abstractions. Sometimes the hard part is finding the right emotion to harness. For instance, it’s difficult to get teenagers to quit smoking by instilling in them a fear of the consequences, but it’s easier to get them to quit by tapping into their resentment of the duplicity of Big Tobacco.
PRINCIPLE 6: STORIES
How do we get people to act on our ideas? We tell stories. Firefighters naturally swap stories after every fire, and by doing so they multiply their experience; after years of hearing stories, they have a richer, more complete mental catalog of critical situations they might confront during a fire and the appropriate responses to those situations. Research shows that mentally rehearsing a situation helps us perform better when we encounter that situation in the physical environment. Similarly, hearing stories acts as a kind of mental flight simulator, preparing us to respond more quickly and effectively."
A systemic and deep look about the design practice. I recommend it to anyone who has some experience and wants to go deeper.
"The wisdom of the knowing hand - that of making, producing, and acting - must be connected to the wisdom of reason. But, wisdom in the realm of design requires that we take a step back. Design wisdom requires the reconstitution of sophia. Design wisdom is an integration of reason with observation, reflection, imagination, action, and production or making.
Ano ther demand that design wisdom makes on us is to reintroduce the analog into a world long dominated by the digital and the analytic."
"There is no scientific approach for creating an ultimate particular because science is a process of discrning abstranctions that apply accross categories or taxonomies of phenomena, while the ultimate particular is a singular and unique composition or assembly. Creating that wihch is unique and thus particular, therefore, cannot be acomplished using a scientific approach.
An action taken by an individual at a specific time and place is an example of something that is an ultimate particular. The outcome of a specific design process, such as a chair, a curriculum, or a policy, is an ultimate particular. It is something unique. It is not the universal chair, the universal curriculum, or the universal policy. We create a particular, which when taken together with other particulars, makes p the whole of our experienced reality."
"Conscious knowing: reason
Unconscious knowing: intuition
Subconscious knowing: imagination
Conscious not-knowing: design thinking."
"Judgment is not a form of decision making as commonly understood. It is not dependent on rules of logic found within rational systems of inquiry. Judgment is not founded on strict rules of reasning. It is more likely to be dependent on the accumulation of the experience of consequences from choices made in complex situations. However, judgment is not irrational, because it follows its own form of intuitive logic. Learning to make judgments is not a matter of learning to follow steps of a technique, or to follow directions dictated by a method or algorithm, or to impose the a priori constraints of a theory. Wittgenstein stated: "What one acquires here is not a technique; one learns correct judgments. There are also rules, but they do not form a system, and only experienced people can apply them right. Unlike calculating-rules" (Wittgenstein 1963).
Judgment is, by definition, an elusive animal. It is the expression of the work of the subconscious mind, and as distinct from rational decision making as it is from intuition."
"Good designers do not accept any situation as given; instead they always begin by asking challenging questions to better understand the true nature of what they are dealing with. They never settle for the "problem"" as presented to them by clients, users, or stakeholders. They do not accept the initial ideas for "solutions" given to them, not even by people who live and work in the situation and who see themselves as experts in the environment. Designers always need to expose the underlying forces of change that their design intervention is expected to successfully confront, modify, and use. They try to become aware of problematic symptoms, and they try to expose underlying forces and root causes that need to be taken into account when attempting to actualize expressions of desiderata for the particular situation at hand."
Good insights to help spread products, messages, and ideas.
“There are lots of examples of things that have caught on. Yellow Livestrong wristbands. Nonfat Greek yogurt. Six Sigma management strategy. A certain gym will be the trendy place to go. A new church or synagogue will be in vogue. Everyone will get behind a new school referendum. These are all examples of social epidemics. Instances where products, ideas, and behaviors diffuse through a population. They start with a small set of individuals or organizations and spread, often from person to person, almost like a virus.”
“So if quality, price, and advertising don’t explain why one first name becomes more popular than another, or why one You-Tube video gets more views, what does?”
“With an incredible array of collaborators I’ve examined things like
“Six key STEPPS, as I call them, that cause things to be talked about, shared, and imitated.
Principle 1: Social Currency
How does it make people look to talk about a product or idea? Most people would rather look smart than dumb, rich than poor, and cool than geeky. Just like the clothes we wear and the cars we drive, what we talk about influences how others see us. It’s social currency. Knowing about cool things—like a blender that can tear through an iPhone—makes people seem sharp and in the know. So to get people talking we need to craft messages that help them achieve these desired impressions. We need to find our inner remarkability and make people feel like insiders. We need to leverage game mechanics to give people ways to achieve and provide visible symbols of status that they can show to others.
Principle 2: Triggers
How do we remind people to talk about our products and ideas? Triggers are stimuli that prompt people to think about related things. Peanut butter reminds us of jelly and the word “dog” reminds us of the word “cat.” If you live in Philadelphia, seeing a cheesesteak might remind you of the hundred-dollar one at Barclay Prime. People often talk about whatever comes to mind, so the more often people think about a product or idea, the more it will be talked about. We need to design products and ideas that are frequently triggered by the environment and create new triggers by linking our products and ideas to prevalent cues in that environment. Top of mind leads to tip of tongue.
Principle 3: Emotion
When we care, we share. So how can we craft messages and ideas that make people feel something? Naturally contagious content usually evokes some sort of emotion. Blending an iPhone is surprising. A potential tax hike is infuriating. Emotional things often get shared. So rather than harping on function, we need to focus on feelings. But as we’ll discuss, some emotions increase sharing, while others actually decrease it. So we need to pick the right emotions to evoke. We need to kindle the fire. Sometimes even negative emotions may be useful.
Principle 4: Public
Can people see when others are using our product or engaging in our desired behavior? The famous phrase “Monkey see, monkey do” captures more than just the human tendency to imitate. It also tells us that it’s hard to copy something you can’t see. Making things more observable makes them easier to imitate, which makes them more likely to become popular. So we need to make our products and ideas more public. We need to design products and initiatives that advertise themselves and create behavioral residue that sticks around even after people have bought the product or espoused the idea.
Principle 5: Practical
Value improve health, or save money, they’ll spread the word. But given how inundated people are with information, we need to make our message stand out. We need to understand what makes something seem like a particularly good deal. We need to highlight the incredible value of what we offer—monetarily and otherwise. And we need to package our knowledge and expertise so that people can easily pass it on.
Principle 6: Stories
What broader narrative can we wrap our idea in? People don’t just share information, they tell stories. But just like the epic tale of the Trojan Horse, stories are vessels that carry things such as morals and lessons. Information travels under the guise of what seems like idle chatter. So we need to build our own Trojan horses, embedding our products and ideas in stories that people want to tell. But we need to do more than just tell a great story. We need to make virality valuable. We need to make our message so integral to the narrative that people can’t tell the story without it.”
About the process that products/services, mainly digital, use to develop habits/addictions in us
“Cognitive psychologists define habits as, “automatic behaviors triggered by situational cues:” things we do with little or no conscious thought. [v] The products and services we use habitually alter our everyday behavior, just as their designers intended. [vi] Our actions have been engineered.”
“Instead of relying on expensive marketing, habit-forming companies link their services to the users’ daily routines and emotions. [vii] A habit is at work when users feel a tad bored and instantly open Twitter. They feel a pang of loneliness and before rational thought occurs, they are scrolling through their Facebook feeds. A question comes to mind and before searching their brains, they query Google. The first-to-mind solution wins.”
“A trigger is the actuator of behavior — the spark plug in the engine. a website link, or the app icon on a phone.”
“The exciting juxtaposition of relevant and irrelevant, tantalizing and plain, beautiful and common, sets her brain’s dopamine system aflutter with the promise of reward. Now she’s spending more time on Pinterest, hunting for the next wonderful thing to find. Before she knows it, she’s spent 45 minutes scrolling.”
“Having a greater proportion of users returning to a service daily, dramatically increases Viral Cycle Time for two reasons: First, daily users initiate loops more often (think tagging a friend in a Facebook photo); second, more daily active users means more people to respond and react to each invitation. The cycle not only perpetuates the process — with higher and higher user engagement, it accelerates it.”
“Remember and Share
A more technical/number-oriented perspective on Complexity. Interesting but not exactly the kind of content I was looking for.
"Common Properties of Complex Systems: When looked at in detail, these various systems are quite different, but viewed at an abstract level they have some intriguing properties in common:
1. Complex collective behavior: All the systems I described above consist of large networks of individual components (ants, B cells, neurons, stock-buyers, Website creators), each typically following relatively simple rules with no central control or leader. It is the collective actions of vast numbers of components that give rise to the complex, hard-to-predict, and changing patterns of behavior that fascinate us.
2. Signaling and information processing: All these systems produce and use information and signals from both their internal and external environments.
3. Adaptation: All these systems adapt—that is, change their behavior to improve their chances of survival or success—through learning or evolutionary processes.
Now I can propose a definition of the term complex system : a system in which large networks of components with no central control and simple rules of operation give rise to complex collective behavior, sophisticated information processing, and adaptation via learning or evolution. (Sometimes a differentiation is made between complex adaptive systems , in which adaptation plays a large role, and nonadaptive complex systems, such as a hurricane or a turbulent rushing river. In this book, as most of the systems I do discuss are adaptive, I do not make this distinction.)
Systems in which organized behavior arises without an internal or external controller or leader are sometimes called self-organizing . Since simple rules produce complex behavior in hard-to-predict ways, the macroscopic behavior of such systems is sometimes called emergent . Here is an alternative definition of a complex system : a system that exhibits nontrivial emergent and self-organizing behaviors . The central question of the sciences of complexity is how this emergent self-organized behavior comes about."
"The defining idea of chaos is that there are some systems— chaotic systems—in which even minuscule uncertainties in measurements of initial position and momentum can result in huge errors in long-term predictions of these quantities. This is known as “sensitive dependence on initial conditions.” In parts of the natural world such small uncertainties will not matter. If your initial measurements are fairly but not perfectly precise, your predictions will likewise be close to right if not exactly on target. For example, astronomers can predict eclipses almost perfectly in spite of even relatively large uncertainties in measuring the positions of planets. But sensitive dependence on initial conditions says that in chaotic systems, even the tiniest errors in your initial measurements will eventually produce huge errors in your prediction of the future motion of an object. In such systems (and hurricanes may well be an example) any error, no matter how small, will make long-term predictions vastly inaccurate."
"The art of model-building is the exclusion of real but irrelevant parts of the problem, and entails hazards for the builder and the reader. The builder may leave out something genuinely relevant; the reader, armed with too sophisticated an experimental probe or too accurate a computation, may take literally a schematized model whose main aim is to be a demonstration of possibility."
"The reason we humans can share so many genes with other creatures quite different from us is that, although the genes might be the same, the sequences making up switches have often evolved to be different. Small changes in switches can produce very different patterns of genes turning on and off during development. Thus, according to Evo-Devo, the diversity of organisms is largely due to evolutionary modifications of switches, rather than genes."
"As for complex systems, we don’t even know what corresponds to the elemental “stuff” or to a basic “force”; a unified theory doesn’t mean much until you figure out what the conceptual components or building blocks of that theory should be.
Deborah Gordon, the ecologist and entomologist voiced this opinion:
Recently, ideas about complexity , self-organization, and emergence—when the whole is greater than the sum of its parts—have come into fashion as alternatives for metaphors of control. But such explanations offer only smoke and mirrors, functioning merely to provide names for what we can’t explain; they elicit for me the same dissatisfaction I feel when a physicist says that a particle’s behavior is caused by the equivalence of two terms in an equation. Perhaps there can be a general apparently self-organizing systems is to focus on the details of specific systems. This will reveal whether there are general laws... The hope that general principles will explain the regulation of all the diverse complex dynamical systems that we find in nature can lead to ignoring anything that doesn’t fit a pre-existing model. When we learn more about the specifics of such systems, we will see where analogies between them are useful and where they break down."