What You Want vs. What You Need


People are inherently bad at making this distinction. We want lots. We don’t need so much. I want a chocolate bar. I really don’t need it. I want a new computer. I don’t really need it.

We’re also very good at convincing ourselves that our wants are more important than they ought to be.

Before I bought my first Mac laptop, I was a staunch PC user. I was Mr. Thinkpad. I simply couldn’t imagine getting by with anything less than a 17″ display and 1600×1200 pixel resolution. When you see people shopping for computers, they often get something like this jammed in their heads too – a “requirement” that is often a non-starter. What I discovered, AFTER I made the leap of faith, was that the Mac did so well with what it had I found myself being more productive on even the bottom-of-the-line Macbook – for reasons ENTIRELY DIFFERENT than what I originally imagined.

At Three Wise Men, we see this a lot. In fact, our Agile practices and tenets dictate focusing on building “the least possible thing that will work” so that wants don’t overrun a project – which in software can get pretty expensive. Once you have something that works (perhaps uncomfortably, perhaps not so efficiently, perhaps a little ugly) THEN you focus on making it better.

You can’t improve something you don’t yet have. And until you have it, you simply can’t accurately imagine what might make it better.


One thought on “What You Want vs. What You Need

  1. Peter Forint

    Most people have more computing power in the PDA than NASA had to put astronauts on the moon.

    I finally had the chance to see one of those new ultra small $400 laptops, or “netbooks”, up close at as it was being used to run a PowerPoint presention at a trade show last month. The user said every road-warrior at their company now has one and they do everything they need.

    And I recently came across a book series called “The Not So Big House”. See http://www.notsobighouse.com

    Often times “small is beautiful”.

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