I’ve been playing around with creating some new business cards and wanted to do something a bit different. I still haven’t settled on a design that I really like, but I have found a format that I’m getting really excited about sending off to be printed.

One thing that I’ve held on to for the past five years or so is a list of phrases that represent things that I believe. When I turned 30 I wrote out 30 things that I deeply believed in (inspired by Tom Peters and This I Believe! – Tom’s 60 TIBs).

I continue to add, remove, and remix this list constantly. Most of these items are things that I’ve read or heard in one place or another. Very few of these items are original, but they are all things that I value deeply.

So – what better way to customize a business card than by printing each business card with a different TIB on the back? I narrowed my list down to 100 and as soon as I come up with a general design that I like, then I’ll have them printed up.

Although they don’t exist yet, I thought I’d share the design since I’ve mentioned them to a few people here and there over the past week…

 

Finding Simplicity Through Thoughtful Reduction

 

I’ve been spending a lot of time over the past few years thinking a lot about simplicity. Simplicity is one of those things that we mention a lot in passing, but it’s also something that we don’t dedicate much effort to achieving.

We develop software where 60+% of the functionality is never or rarely used. We focus on feature-matching the competition while we neglect listening to our users. We litter our presentations with excessive bullet points instead of focusing on our core message. We write user manuals that rival Atlas Shrugged because we’ve failed at providing usable interactions.

By nature, we tend to add when we should subtract. Evolution has plagued us with reactions that promote complexity and avoid clarity. When we create, we focus on building more – but when we consume, we tend to find the most joy out of having less.

How do we make a conscious effort to find simplicity in a world of complexity? Well, to start, we can start to think about thoughtful reduction.

Thoughtful reduction is an extremely powerful tool in our quest for simplicity.

The next time you are faced with an opportunity to improve or modify your process, or your software, or your life – think about what you can remove instead of what you can add. Take a little extra time to remove root causes instead of adding workarounds. Think about how to communicate more clearly instead of how to communicate more. Think about the things that you can stop doing instead of the things that you can start doing.

When we remove the non-essential then we end up with a stronger focus on the truly essential. Find the core of your application, your message, your purpose – and take away the rest. You might not end up winning the feature-race, but you could find a beautiful product and a renewed sense of focus.

 

Modeling vs. The Model

It’s interesting to me how much people rely on formal tools for modeling. I frequently talk to individuals that tend to assert that just because a model is made in some modeling tool (like Visio) that it is *right* or at least superior to whiteboard sketches.

The Visio fan-boys and fan-girls seem to snicker and generally doubt the effectiveness of a sketch done at a whiteboard. Why is this?

Is it because of the appearance? Is it the lack of gradients? Is it the lack of the drop shadows? Is it the lack of the standard company logo in the upper right-hand corner? Is it because of how straight the lines are?

My view is exactly the opposite. If I had to summarize my stance, I’d say that the straightness of the lines has an inverse effect on the understanding of the problem.

In my experience, most of the models created with modeling-tools are done by one individual. If others collaborate on the model, it’s usually in a serialized fashion. It’s “tossed over the wall” to someone else who follows a similar process. It’s also my experience that many people spend more time worrying about the polish of how the output looks than spending time thinking about what is being modeled.

Contrast this to a whiteboard-session:

When a model is explored on a whiteboard it’s usually done with more than one person. It’s usually done collaboratively with at least two participants, a variety of view-points, and it’s iterated on quickly. Because it’s being done collaboratively, it also frequently results in break-through ideas or understanding.

Unfortunately, the modeling tools also tend to focus our attention on the output, not the creation of the model (where the real learning occurs).

It’s important to remember that the modeling, learning, and understanding is what provides the real value, not the model.

 

Credits to this guy who by the way has a website, for helping me with business cards etc. If you want to support him check out his website. It’s about Top Eleven which is a football manager game. He explains how you can gain advantages over other players in the game, “Top Eleven”.