There was a time, not so long ago, when we had to guess how our work was per- forming. If you were lucky enough to be published the only metric of success you might have would be some complex statistical guess on how much did your brilliance help the total newspaper sales, or the occasional fan letter.

Today data arms us with a multitude of tools to interrupt and adjust our thinking. Metrics of user’s actions can reveal within minutes if a new feature or the repositioning of a button has had the direct effect on the business we hoped it would.

Metrics have fundamentally changed the mechanics of designing and building products. It’s centerpiece of agile processes, and SCRUM based organizations will sing praises to this newly–found order and increased productivity.

When ideating a new feature the conversation will naturally lead to this new forecasting” method.

What strikes me though is the obviousness of the fact that it is impossible to quantitively measure an invention before it is built.

All of the computational power in machine learning and AI technologies will not be able to render more than informed predictions.

Astro Teller — Google X’s director — gave a talk at Google I/O 2015 titled: Helping Moonshots Survive Contact with the Real World

… we’re trying to take moonshots. That word is to remind us that we’re try- ing to work on things that are very hard, that aspire to make the world 10 times better in some way than it currently is, not 10% better, to remind us about the risks that we’re taking and the long-term nature of the work that we have ahead of us when we try to do these things.” — Astro Teller

It is then not only designers that fight incremental changes, but large scale
innovators too.

Quale is defined as a quality or property as perceived or experienced by a person” (saturated colors – like the one above – are a commonly used example of a quale)

I think this encapsulates what I have been referring to as deep thinking. Essentially our part in a human–machine symbiosis.

Moonshots are available to all of us with access to advanced technologies, ambitious industries and early stage disrupters. Rather than leaning too much into stats and sprints, why not nurture and fight for ideas we believe in based on our unique subjective understanding (and then adjust based on numbers and tests)?

March 25, 2016