“The Lawnmower Didn’t Stand A Chance.”

by COMMON Community Member Rich Adams, Founder and CEO of Pure3d, Inc.

The lawnmower didn’t stand a chance.

I had to know. Where did all that noise come from? How was it that you could add some gas, pull a handle attached to a string, push it along, and make the grass shorter? I gathered all of my Dad’s tools, and started taking things apart. I needed to reveal the inner workings that made the mower do what it does. Mechanical surgery by a 12 year old never has a pretty outcome, but after a few hours, there I was — surrounded by a pile of wheels and parts and holding in my hand the grand prize of my efforts: a shiny piston attached to a connecting rod. To me, the investigation was complete. I had found the heart of the machine.

Those early lessons in perpetual curiosity stay with me today. I continually seek the “how” to the initial question of “why”. It’s the reason I pursued a degree in Mechanical Engineering, educating myself on the fundamental theories that form the basis of our modern world. It’s the reason I enjoy working with new companies and on new innovations. My curiosity always has me “peering around the corner” to envision the intersection of social trends, technology, and creativity.

My genre is product development. Smart product development. Strategic product development. This involves more than just getting something out the door. It means getting it right. And right can mean a lot of different things to different markets, consumers, and brands. It means answering questions on a variety of fronts, and making sure that your product is a true manifestation of your brand. It’s making sure that your product carves out a niche in a crowded marketplace, or stakes a claim into new territory bringing with it the feature set and emotional connection that will shunt competitive pressure. And since the major cost of introducing any new product is paired tightly with decisions made early in development, I seek to pin down functional and emotive criteria that help clarify goals and guide critical decisions.

I’m a generalist. I bring a variety of perspectives and insight to product conversations. Each of these considerations will have different value to the brands they represent, but increasingly, the aggregate of these decisions made on behalf of the product are cut from the same cloth. We all know “right” when we see it, but it’s difficult to achieve. My goal is to get my clients as close to “right” as possible through a combination of insights, research, targeted questions, and honest, playful conversation.

COMMON is all about collaboration. We’re in this together. Some would dismiss this as naïve or idealistic, but it’s true, and our willingness to embrace the implications are becoming less a choice and more a requirement. This introduces another equally important element to product development — responsibility. As creators of new things, we have to make choices. And these choices all have a cost. Sometimes “inexpensive” is inextricably paired with hidden costs that we pay in a currency that doesn’t show up on a balance sheet. Responsible development implores us to expand the scope of our conversations to consider all elements that come to bear in the creation of our ideas.


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About this series: Member Spotlights are original pieces authored by members of the COMMON community that provide a glimpse into who they are, and why taking care of the planet and all the creatures on it matters to them.


COMMON is a creative accelerator for social businesses and projects, designed to build, launch, and promote products and ideas that take care of the planet and all the creatures on it.

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