There’s a good story about how W.K. Kellogg, a broom salesman who in the late 1800s was trying to help his brother, a doctor at a hospital, find better breakfast options for his patients. One day, he accidentally left a pot of boiled wheat out overnight. When he rolled that accidental wheat out and baked it, it turned into deliciously crispy flakes. He continued experimenting, moving through different iterations and formulas, letting people test out the different versions — until he eventually he tried it with corn. He sold thousands of cases of that product — cornflakes — the first year, which became cornerstone of the billion-dollar company Kellogg’s.
It’s interesting to think about how things are designed today. Scott Tiner, in his column, talks about human-centered design, in which designers approach problem solving from a human perspective. Sometimes this involves observing how users go about doing things, rather than asking them what they think they need. As Scott mentions in his column, if Henry Ford had asked people what he could do to improve their methods of transportation, they would have asked for a faster horse. As systems designers, how can you apply these lessons?
Enjoy the issue, and have a great weekend.