Creating something new is usually interesting and fun.
There are no restrictions – we’re focused on the problem at hand – and we can choose from a variety of tools to carry out the work.
Over time we develop processes and workflows that streamline things and make us more effective, especially as we add people to the project.
Things ramp up – we improve quickly – until we start to plateau.
And then we start to move more slowly – as the steps and processes and interactions start to hinder, obstruct and finally block progress.
At this point things aren’t fun any more.
At this point the friction involved in doing anything – the effort that it takes appears overwhelming.
It’s like being asked to kick a whale down the beach.
This happens in all kinds of systems – whether it’s programming, process engineering, or business strategy.
What we already have stops us from moving ahead and getting better.
So… what can we do about it?
Perhaps it starts with a mindset.
Steve Jobs, for example, was famously minimalist.
His house had hardly any furniture in it – perhaps the barest essentials – a mattress, a chest of drawers and a few folding chairs.
His philosophy led to the creation of devices like the iPad, so intuitive in design that a child can instantly use it and without the buttons and controls that others slapped on.
The problem many of us have is we have added too many buttons and features to our lives and working environments – we have too many meetings, follow too many processes and try too hard to please everyone.
What would happen if we spent that time working on interesting and useful things instead?
Perhaps we should begin by looking at everything we do and cutting back on everything that simply doesn’t help us innovate or keep customers happy.
Perfection is achieved not when there is no more to add.
It’s reached when there is no more to take away.