Less means more.

Source: Pixbay

“Therefore, the best criterion for choosing what to keep and what to discard is whether keeping it will make you happy, whether it will bring you joy.”
 ― Marie Kondo

Marie Kondo changed my life. Her approach to purging my home of things that didn’t make me happy proved to be the most effective means of simplifying my life I’ve encountered. By focusing on feelings, she took all the doubt, stress, and guilt out of culling the contents of my closet, kitchen, electronics, and toiletries.

Minimalism or simplicity is not a new idea, but her contribution is to suggest that we use our feelings as the primary deciding factor, which in practice worked much better for me than other methods. The result is that I decluttered far more efficiently and effectively than ever before, eliminating over 75% of my possessions without worrying that I was making a mistake. It worked because the purpose of my things is to give me comfort and security and my feelings about a thing are an excellent reflection of its ability to provide those two things.

I wonder if the same principle could be applied to product design?

The Kanbanery ideas backlog contains hundreds of items, collected over years of brainstorming, competitive intelligence gathering (once we had competitors), and customer feedback. I wrote last week about how my attitudes toward customer feature requests have changed over the years. Some of the ideas come from competitors and are things that we won’t do on principle (see last week’s post on principle-driven design ). Requests from clients that have sat on the list for over five years have been passed over in hundreds of queue replenishment sessions for a reason. They serve the same function as that ugly sweater your mom bought you does in your closet, guilt. It’s time to admit to ourselves that we’ll never do it because we don’t want to.

“By facing your things, you’re facing yourself,” Marie Kondo says. “It will make you happy and everyone around you happy.” That’s an idea that fits wonderfully with my ideas about Principle-Driven Design. A team that culls a backlog together, faces their demons together and grows together. Together they can learn what makes them happy to come to work.

To read part 2 of this article, go here.

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