I was first exposed to this concept when I developed my project planning tool. It came about as an extension to a project we were working on. I was unhappy with the existing process, and went about fixing it, as I generally don’t like to leave broken things unfixed. It’s why I automated the planning process for that project, and it’s why I developed a tool to show my phone usage statistics.
If you develop software, there are undoubtedly some weak points in your process. On a development team, the first thing rookie developers will probably complain about is a lack of clear documentation (don’t worry; the current developers have plenty of it locked up in their heads). Good rookie developers will stay strong and document whatever they work on, improve documentation for existing code, and create documentation where documentation doesn’t exist. The weaker ones will succumb to laziness.
Organizational changes have to be made incrementally. Otherwise, the culture shock will cripple the process entirely (or so we’re led to believe by management types). People are part of the process, so you have to take them into account. Most of them don’t like change. But they probably won’t complain if they don’t really notice it. Just like nobody can see how fast the polar ice caps are melting.
Organizational changes come about when people exposed to the process notice its flaws. If that’s you – and you choose to be smart about it – then you’ve just found yourself a great new idea. And that’s exactly how Gmail started:
Gmail was a project started by Google developer Paul Buchheit several years before it was announced to the public. Initially the software was available only internally as an email client for Google employees.
If you get into the habit of actually trying to fix the problems you find, then you’re going to be getting a lot of ideas. A few of those ideas will be great. And a few of those great ideas will make a lot of money.
The point here is that making great new things is more of a habit than it is a one-time deal. Professional poker players know that the results of one hand don’t make or break a career. It’s the net effect of hundreds of thousands of small decisions added up over time.
If you think you might be a smart person, realize that your value comes not from having ideas, but from your drive to implement those ideas.