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How less makes us creative
What could we build in a weekend?
It may be tempting to blame lack of resources, experience or time for our inability to start building our dream product. Rather than seeing constraints as a negative, however, we can embrace them as they force us to prioritise and focus. This makes us creative.
What can be done with very little?
The first version of Basecamp, the highly successful web based collaboration tool, was coded by David Heinemeier Hansson. David only had 10 hours per week (for 7 months) to work on Basecamp and, as a by-product, developed the Ruby on Rails web framework.
Just a Minute is a radio show where four panellists talk for 60 seconds on a given subject "without hesitation, repetition or deviation". While the rules are simple, the game is amusing and requires a great deal of creativity to play well. It is highly successful, having run since 1967.
Constraints lead to creativity
Find ways to get 90% of the value with 10% of the effort. - Paul Buchheit (Gmail creator)
The early stages of developing something new on your own are focused on working within tight constraints. In addition to your product doing just one thing (at first), there are other ways to control the temptation to try to do everything at once or perfectly. Ask yourself:
Can I build and launch something over the weekend? The first iteration of most solutions should be prototyped in two or three days.
Will it make my target users’ lives better?
Is someone willing to pay me for it? It’s important that you are doing something which is economically sustainable in the longer term.
Can I get feedback quickly so I can judge if I’m building something useful? The faster the feedback, the faster you’ll build something truly valuable.
I developed my first mobile app, Conxy, during my daily train commute into London on a laptop. An enthusiastic group of players was established and I got some great feedback. I’m now developing Scarper (an improved version).
Rework book by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson
How to Build a Startup Without Funding by Pieter Levels
The Minimalist Entrepreneur by Sahil Lavingia
Make Time post by Phil Martin
80/20 App Development post by Phil Martin
This post challenges us to turn our constraints into an opportunity to focus and drive creativity. Until next Sunday see what you could build over a weekend.
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