DIY in the end it is about your customers…


Back in the day I did a lot of DIY computer projects. From adding memory to a computer (remember how hard it was to add memory to a Macintosh SE/30? You removed the case and then had to fish the memory into the case and hopefully at that time you got the memory seated correctly. If you didn’t you had to start all over.

Before the SE/30 I also upgraded the onboard memory of my Apple IIc. Back in the day you had to have a special torq wrench to open the Macintosh computer. I still have that torq because I just can’t get rid of it.

Why the DIY discussion?

First off because I do a bit more DIY now with the Kickstarter and Indiegogo stuff I am doing. But more to the reality of ease of use. The harder it is to complete a task the more frust4rating that task is. (Other than walking – that I like to do no matter what).

In the exceptional book “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” Robert Pirsig (the author) talks about quality. In particular the fact that the father in the book works at a place that makes home BBQ grills. He says they come up with a number of ways to assemble the grill and then they ship the hardest version with he grill.

It is in the end about quality.

But more importantly it is about time. When I was years ago installing memory in my home computer I had more time. Now I have more knowledge and more tools but I have less time so the failure rate that is acceptable goes down quickly.

It is in the end also about simplicity.

Finally its about usage. I have over the years collected a number of devices that I use virtually every day. I have also collected a number of devices I use on occasion. Finally there is a collection of things I use for decoration (manual typewriters re one example. I don’t use them anymore but I love having the old Royal Typewriters around.

It is effectively also about need.

Yes I’ve heard the need vs want argument before. The definitions of want vs need normally I’ve found fit the goals and expectations of the person conducting the argument. IE things I need are very different from things you need.

It is about need.

So when shipping a DIY project help me out a little. I’ve told a number of Kickstarter and Indiegogo projects over the past few years – ship really good directions. Some of them actually listened and really do. Some ship without directions and they wonder why afterwards that their product is rated lower. Bing Bing –

Ship good directions.

Hire someone off the street you don’t know to come in and using your directions set-up the device. That is the ultimate litmus test for directions. Random off the street person comes in and sets things up – they work and then they are good directions.

If they are unable to set-up it up, start over and begin new directions. It is not as Phaedrus was doing (select the hardest directions to ship) rather ship the easiest directions. Lowest mean time to productivity.

It is in the end about your customers.


Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow