The Incomplete House, 1970

I have always believed that the creation of new work is a two-tiered process. First, you must move yourself to an unknown domain, do some reconnaissance, and make it your own. Then you give whatever fresh nutrition is to be found in the new space, no matter how small it will be, back to the space of your past, operating in such a way that these old spaces do not remain isolated or negated
Kazuo Shinohara: The Incomplete House, 1970

If the internet taught us anything is how to get things done. The death of long, cumbersome waterfall practices gave way to iterative and agile methodology.

The core concept is consistent:
Thinking – Idea – Building – Traction – Success (or failure)


1. Thinking

An idea normally starts as a curiosity and develops through free thinking. That free flow is crucial for building the logic and its constructs. Such logic can lead to a strong enough hypotheses, and an idea that can withstand scrutiny and real–world obstacles.

The road to articulating these models starts at identifying patterns (of industry, technology etc) and mental models that motivate users (and other stakeholders).

A successful idea is often self catalyzing. As we cover more ground, we get more answers and our research results in better better, newer questions.

2. Ideating

Once we have our core hypotheses we will need to implement it in reality. Our idea, as brilliant as it may be, is floating in the sky, detached from the need to stand the test of markets, or users (or be understood by anyone but ourselves).

If we want to move it from our mind and into other’s it is crucial for it to be brought down to reality. A process that often involved diagrams and analogies.

We would need to identify our stakeholders (who is going to use it), their motivations (why) and to what end (who is going to better from it? business, user, both, none). Externally we’re likely to consider our market fit, competitors and collaborators.

It might be useful to consider the idea’s potential for a meta–improvement. That is to say how can the idea better itself through usage?

Can we build a system that can adjust its logic through its operation? Can our system self–modify?

3. Build

We will now need to act on our design. Building a system, especially one that is made of inventive technologies and new logical constructs comes with its share of growing pains.

Through trial and error we will hopefully be able to produce the experience we set out to build – with all of its nuanced details and motivational anchors.

Years of disrupting technologies gave our industry the tools to quickly build, deploy and test our assumptions. Those would come especially handy in this stage.

This is a double edged sword though. Leaning too heavily into numbers without a deep subjective understanding of our vision and values could render our product empty of a future.

4. Traction

Digital products are systems, technologically and metaphorically. Without users these eco systems are nothing more than ghost cities.

Populating a new eco system is not an easy task. It requires the right of mix of marketing, a usable product to generate an organic tail of user growth and ambassadors for our vision.

There is also the question of balancing the inbound numbers and the capacity of the system to communicate the product’s cadence while technologically handling the burden.

We know of products crashing under their own popularity but we already managed to forget a slew of hyped–up products we installed, added all of our friends to, and then slipped into abyss of forgotten iOS folders.

5. Success (or failure)

If we made it this far, we have arrived to this stage with a product, users, maybe a bit of funding.

It us now time to objectively measure our logic.Does it stand the test of market? Did we invent new thinking or have we adapted the same thinking we rejected?

Up until this point we have been running mainly using our passion and the good will of our friends and users (who often overlap).

What is the value of our product? Who does it better? Can it move on with times and technological innovations?

Financially this stage could take a few different shapes. The company could turn profitable, it may be acquired, decline to bankruptcy, or a mix of these options.

I choose to focus less on those attributes of a company’s life cycle. But rather I am interested in the (core) logic that drives the entire product.

The humanities (read design) have the unspoken role of promoting better, stronger logic. The kind of logic, product and businesses that result in net value.

This raises the question of sustainability. If we accept that we only have a certain stock of thinking in us (individually and as an industry) then by extension we need to use it in the most sustainable and economic way.

Anything that we can physically think of, is being built right now. The act of thinking of an idea, makes it a reality.

This challenges the way we measure ideas.

We no longer need to be first.

Can come up with new thinking paradigms that can live up to technologies we haven’t built yet?


If the topics in this site are of interest please feel free to get in touch and take part in the conversation

– Nitzan (email)