Innovation entails pushing boundaries, exploring the undiscovered, and bettering the status quo. We wouldn’t survive, evolve or thrive without this innate urge to constantly seek something better nor without our ability to adapt to new situations.
So, here we are, understanding that everything man-made is designed and that everything we experience is an outcome of synthesizing ideas. And recognizing that, in every aspect of our lives, we are all the beneficiaries of someone else’s genius.
“Good ideas are always crazy until they’re not.” — Elon Musk
Many of us picture the most known inventions and inventors when thinking of innovation. We also tend to believe that innovating is somewhat reserved only for the geniuses, the mavericks, and the gifted. But is it? Also, let’s see if innovation starts once we take out the sketchpad, draft the first business plan and become an entrepreneur.
First Principles way of thinking
It begins with questioning the status quo — not only investigating opportunities in whatever we’d want to improve — but also examining our process of thinking while innovating. How might we successfully arrive at a viable idea? How can we innovate more effectively? Is there any framework that could enhance our problem-solving ability, accelerate our ideation process, and make us more efficient at finding the right solution? Well then, let’s talk about First Principles.
How to deploy First Principles thinking?
First Principles help us upgrade our default way of thinking to a more powerful one. First Principles define a process in which we break a problem down into basic elements and dismiss every assumption until we are left with the fundamental truth that can’t be deduced any further. Then we can reassemble those basic elements in a new way. In other words, we are reverse-engineering a problem while completely discarding conventional wisdom, dogma, and biases from our thinking. Doing this leaves us only with facts, which allows us to see the problem as it is. And then to see what opportunities are possible.
Simply put, First Principles is one of the best ways to learn to think for ourselves. It unlocks our creative potential. We can see that problem-solving not based on facts is like having a compass surrounded by magnets — it will pull us in all directions but the right one. First Principles save us time and point towards the right paths in which pushing boundaries, exploring, and bettering the status quo is worthwhile.
Why are First Principles so beneficial to all of us?
From implementing incremental improvements to an existing idea, service, or product to the most revolutionary invention of the century — innovations big and small follow the same pattern. We question, explore, and define a viable solution to an existing problem. And this is, in fact, a universal pattern for dealing with any life and work problems.
And therefore recognizing that all of us can already innovate to a certain extent, integrating First Principles into our everyday thinking would inevitably yield benefits. Once they’d open up the world of possibilities in front of us, we could become even better designers, better researchers, better business people. And be better at ideation, better at problem-solving, and even better at inventing! Just imagine how deploying First Principles would benefit UX design, research, engineering, testing, strategy, branding, writing, budgeting!
“Big things start small.” — Jeff Bezos
So we now know that innovation isn’t just for the chosen few but attainable by all of us — it’s up to us to master our First Principles thinking and to change the world!
Having an excellent idea, wanting to disrupt the status quo, and aspiring to become a household name might be solid enough reasons to keep us motivated every day. Yet to build a digital product — to build a great digital product — also requires perseverance and hard work. A lot of it if you don't work smart.
Hi, I'm Bara. I'm a digital product & brand designer using holistic design and psychology to help startups, businesses, and entrepreneurs manifest the full potential of their businesses and successfully grow them. You may already be familiar with my design & psychology work. And you may now book business, design, and mindset mentoring with me!
It's impossible to design for 100% of users. That said, we need to advocate for more inclusive design. All designers should always consider the diverse spectrum of users. Imagine people with disabilities, people who aren't as tech-savvy as us, or those who don't fall into the binary world that we're so used to. Being mindful of them will help us create a better user experience across the board.
Aren't we, designers — and, in fact, all creative minds — rather good at seeking inspiration? We scroll through our favorite visual blogs, flip through pages of that well-thumbed book, or stroll through design stores. Over time, we learn where and how to look each time we want to find a state of inspiration and design something new.
As designers and problem-solvers, we are accountable for the ever-increasing importance of design and innovation — and for the role it plays in today's life and society. We think. We always tinker. And we're often developing new concepts. It's our responsibility to make each design solution user-friendly, aesthetically appealing, and, first and foremost, the best it can be. And when doing so, we're often guided by numerous design principles, techniques, and methodologies.