“You’re doing it ALL WRONG! Here let me show you…”
they don’t get it
…after reading the email, he could feel the heat rising and his heart beating faster – and that twitch above his left eye. Once again, even after telling them over and over again how to use it, they kept doing it wrong. And when they did, his email blew up, his phone starting ringing and his day went down the tubes. Today was going to be one more in a string of days, why did he ever think people would get it?
I thought I was clear
…it was Bobby again, she loved his imagination, but wondered why he couldn’t follow simple instructions. Really, how hard is it to draw stick people? Why did he insist on using so many colors, and why were their heads so big? She instructed them to “draw your family” – she really didn’t think anyone in his family had a head that big or was red in color. What was she going to do?
can I really do this
…he sat in the dark, that feeling in the pit of his stomach, anxiety building. He had seen where this thing was going for a while and was powerless to stop it. Tomorrow, he was going to accept a check for several million dollars, based upon a complete sham. The idea, the product HE had envisioned, was not the product they were funding. He wanted to help small businesses compete with the “big” boys, instead, he had created something those same companies could use to crush the very people he really wanted to help.
who would have thought
…she sat there staring at her phone, the smile growing on her face, thinking that no matter what, her life never ceased to amaze her. All she wanted to do was make enough money to “survive” by providing a way for anyone to share any photo on any social media platform. Add some cute emoticons and text – then POOF – instant MEME. But after reading that article, and receiving so many emails, it just made her head spin. She thought she was creating something fun. What she never expected was someone would use it to save lives or to create a rallying cry for a cause. You just never know, do you?
Our products and services, the technology that drives innovation, is agnostic – it is neither good nor bad, it just is.
Anyone that lives in the world of ideas, product development, product marketing, or startups – knows, there are “unintended consequences” with any product or service. You can’t control HOW someone will use them once they move from idea into the real world. The following are few thoughts I have – all are personal, some are professional – concerning unintended consequences …
No matter what you believe about your product, you will never think of everything
I’ve used the handle end of a screwdriver to hammer a nail; I’ve used a hammer to pound in a screw; I’ve used velcro to close up rips in clothing; and I’ve used my phone to send myself text message and reminders.
You’ve probably done the same thing, or similar things in your life. Every product is used improperly (if you talk to the creators of that product). Every product is broken, in some way, by users on a daily basis. Those are unintended consequence … but, never be upset when people break your product, misuse your data, or use your service to do something you never intended.
Anything I can imagine is limited – embrace that fact, don’t fight it.
Be ecstatic about it. Sure, there may be someone that will use it in a way that frankly, you don’t agree with – that can happen with words just as easily as with a product. The value is not in what you think, but in those things beyond your imagination. Release rigidity.
Nothing is controllable
Once you put yourself, your product or service out there (or even once I publish this article), you no longer control what happens. Be willing to give up the illusions of control and move beyond it. Kids will color outside the lines; adults will misuse a product. What you thought was a quirky funny saying, becomes a rallying cry for some group of people dissatisfied with something you’ve didn’t know existed.
If you believe you can control it, it will eventually consume and control you. Embrace the reality of infinite possibilities – it will set you free.
Don’t stop creating
Once you embrace infinite possibilities and the uncontrollable nature of “things”, you may just decide it’s not worth the risk. What if someone takes this thing and does something horrible with it? What if someone twists my words; uses my product; abuses my service – not in the way I intended, but in some perverted manner I personally could never imagine?
Truth is, that is a distinct possibility. The opposite is also true, there are “things” that were meant to harm, that have been used to heal. We can never know, all we can do is provide guidance, support and keep our ideas/products flowing.
Embrace unintended consequences.
What could happen …
…as I woke up this morning, enjoying the warmth of my bed and the soft glow of the breaking sun, the first thought was “I wonder what surprises are going to happen today?”.
Now, it’s up to you. What are your thoughts? Share them below in the comments – it really is the only way we learn, share your voice.
author’s note: I have been guilty of saying “you’re doing it wrong” many times in my life – usually with the best intentions of helping the other person. That is a possible outcome, there are several others also. The message (potentially a bit subtle) within the article is this … as humans, we are limited in our view of the world and limited in our capacity to “see” everything. Our products and services, the technology that drives innovation, is agnostic – it is neither good nor bad, it just is. If someone uses those same products or services in an unintended way, it just means you’ve done your job. Embrace all those unintended consequences.