Chapter 4: Leap

From Planning to Action

We are surrounded every day by products that don’t work well, services that slow us down, and setups that are just plain wrong: the website that requires ten clicks to accomplish what should take only one or two; the projector that stubbornly resists linking up with your laptop; the machine at the parking garage that makes paying so difficult. Noticing that something is broken is an essential prerequisite for coming up with a creative solution to fix it. Making “bug lists,” which Tom described in The Art of Innovation, can help you to see more opportunities to apply creativity. Whether you use a piece of paper in your pocket or record ideas on your smartphone, keeping track of opportunities for improvement can help you engage with the world around you in a more proactive way. The running list can serve as a useful source of ideas when you’re looking for a new project to tackle. Or you can make a bug list on the spot.

Write down the things that bug you, and you’ll start being more mindful of them. It may seem like you’re focusing on the negatives, but the point is to notice more opportunities to do things better. And while many of the items on your bug list may be things you won’t be able to fix, if you add to it regularly, you’ll stumble onto issues you can influence and problems you can help solve. Almost every annoyance, every point of friction, hides a design opportunity. Instead of just complaining, ask yourself, “How might I improve this situation?”