The Point is To Do What is Desired, Not What is Requested

As a software creator I have learned many lessons over the years. The one I learned early on from my mentors and practice daily, is to do what is desired, not simply what is requested. This means understanding what the customer, your boss, the company is after and making sure you deliver that. This is how you delight and deliver results that are valued repeatedly. This requires curiosity, understanding, empathy, flexibility and execution. Many people blame lack of time, people or money. The resource a “rosh gadol” person has is resourcefulness.

Ultimately, fulfilling the other person’s desire is what they expect and when they don’t get what they desire there’s no value created. The explicit instruction they give can help, but completing the instruction is just a step on a journey, not the desired location.

I was reading Joel on Software’s post on “rosh gadol” and thought, this describes exactly the expectations I have of outstanding software creators and other professionals. You instantly recognize a “rosh gadol” person when you work with one. This is how you become sought after, whether you are a business or individual professional.

Tamir Nitzan explains, “For instance, someone might be told to clean the barrel of their rifle. A “rosh katan” will strictly clean the barrel, perhaps leaving it useless because the trigger mechanism has sand in it, whereas a “rosh gadol” will clean the entire rifle and lubricate it so it’s ready for use and doesn’t rust. Another example: you tell a soldier to “go notify so-and-so that we will be ready for inspection at 1600”. By 1700 you’re curious, so you ask him “did you notify?”. His answer might be “well I called his office and left a message”. A “rosh gadol” would likely say: “I called his office but got his voice mail, so I left a message. I called back an hour later but still got voice mail, so I called his cell phone and left a message there too. I tried him again an hour after that and he assured me he will be here by 1600. I called him again 20 minutes ago and he said he was on his way but stuck in traffic” (a real “rosh gadol” would have notified his C.O. of all this without being asked of course).

Employing AI

I plan on writing two blog posts in the coming days.

  1. Hiring My First AI Resource/Employee
  2. Managing a team of AI Resources/Employees

These are not about employing people, but employing AI agents for different business responsibilities. This is an area that I think will grow more relevant as our digital assistants get smarter and more manageable.

First, we employee individual assistants, like Cortana on Windows. I use this assistant to add appointments to my calendar or check the whether. I also use Buffer to schedule tweets for my business. Buffer will let me manually schedule a time or “pick the best time” to send my tweet, based on its own intelligence.

I use MailChimp to send email newsletters for my business. It has similar smarts to Buffer and can tell me the quality of the individuals I am emailing, compared to their interactions with other newsletters also sent through the service.

Now that I’m relying on these AI agents, it’s time for me to raise this abstraction layer up a level and apply intention to managing them individually and as a team. Ultimately, I don’t want my AI agents to be silos of activity, but I want Cortana to interact with Buffer and MailChimp and coordinate Twitter and MailChimp activity. I want these services to monitor my Google Analytics to know when one of the tweets or email newsletters is increasing traffic to my site beyond the original newsletter links being clicked. How can I generate a positive feedback loop?

Open Source Freechise

I was reading this Brick and Makers website and came across the term “freechise”. It is used as a term to describe an open source franchise business model. This particular website might be poorly worded in parts, but the concept of a freechise is interesting.

Some of the things that can be open sourced about a business are:

  • Logo – The open source franchise can have a logo and allow a small subset of the graphic to be specific to the individual operator.
  • Policies and Procedures – The policies and procedures manuals can be distributed via a repository like Github and forked or outright re-used by each franchise operator.
  • Software – The software that underpins the business can be open sourced, letting others freely use and contribute to its development.

Commercial franchises have strict rules that have to be followed or you can lose your franchise. For example, there is a certain standard that you must adhere to if you want to keep your McDonalds franchise. How should these types of controls work in an open source environment? The franchise is a brand and consumers expect the same quality and product from each franchise owner. When you go to one McDonalds, you expect the Big Mac to taste exactly like the Big Mac you had in a different city. It is not clear to me yet how this is enforced in an open source franchise.

New 3D Printing MakerShop Capabilities for 3D Designers

Come see what’s new at the 3D printer marketplace MakerShop on April 3, 2014. We have been working hard to give designers the online tools they need to distribute their best work. On April 3, we add a new way for 3D print designers to get their designs directly in the hands of home and office 3D printers.

If you’re a small business, a marketer or a serious 3D print designer then you will not want to miss this April 3rd news.

What Does Retail Mean in a World of 3D Printers?

This is a question I had today. This is going to be a blog post more about questions than answers.

What does “retail” mean in a world of 3D printers? In the Industrial Age people went to factories to make things, which then travelled to retail stores where customers bought them. If the means of production do not have to be physically separate from where they are sold because of technologies like 3D printing, then what does it mean to be a retailer? Obviously, in the year 2014 and the current realities of 3D printing then I’m talking more about small toy retailers or other niche markets. In the future, say 2020, then maybe this will be more generalized, but for now don’t dismiss my question by saying that most stuff can’t be 3D printed right now.

Does being a retailer include manufacturing on site, using 3D printing? If you are a sun glasses retailer, is it really an excuse to say that I can’t have sun glasses with X feature “because they don’t make them like that?” Is it acceptable business practice to say that the manufacturer or supplier provides these 100 pairs for you to select from and if you don’t like them, then don’t expect for us to serve you?

Taking sun glasses as an example, what if I saw a pair of 3D printed sun glasses frames on and I wanted my local sun glasses hut to let me send them the design, they 3D print it and insert the sun glass lenses and I pick it up tomorrow?

Powerful 3D Printing Entrepreneur Hacks

Your outcome: Design a 3D printer business that leverages the next wave of technical innovation to achieve results at least 10x faster and cheaper for your customers. Are you prepared to take advantage of new opportunities available to 3D printer entrepreneurs today? Are you bundling 3DP with your current offerings, designing viral things and growth hacking your 3D printer business? If you ignore it now, you might be disrupted in the future.

Ways 3D printing can propel existing businesses forward, help entrepreneurs start new businesses and help kids learn better.

  • Want to be creative and make a new block stacking game to teach kids about gravity and weights? Then read about the opportunities to use 3D learning to go beyond e-learning.
  • Want to propel your existing small business forward with 3D printing? Learn how to bundle 3D printing with your current offerings and other strategies.
  • Learn how to launch a 3D printed product. We are still early in this new wave of technology. Like the wave of the web and mobile apps before it, there will be people that only tinker with code and people that transform their lives and the lives of the people around them by launching products that people use every day. This new age lets THINGS go viral. Teens with computers connected to the web could create websites that disrupted established companies in a few years. Now, your physical product company is just as vulnerable as teens design wildly more relevant and social designs and host them on the web for anyone to 3D print. Design over the weekend + 2 weeks on the web = thousands of users in the world of 3D printing.
  • Bootstrap your 3D printer business with a few hundred dollars to find a local 3D printer using MakeXYZ that will 3D print prototypes or small batches for you as orders for your 3D product come in.
  • There are many tools for 3D printer entrepreneurs to get a web page up for hosting 3D printer designs, promoting designs with a blog and more.
  • Learn awesome life hacks to be a better 3D printer entrepreneur. If you want to take your game to the next level you need to recognize when you need to change your assumptions, not just your tactics.

Monetize 3D Printing

Take action, take steps often and use each step to learn and make changes. You will be more prepared than most to take advantage of the 3D printing opportunities available today and in the future.

My 3D printing marketplace is a great tool for 3D printer entrepreneurs to host and distribute designs, promote designs and connect with fans using the included blog platform. We also regularly post new useful techniques and patterns to help entrepreneurs to succeed.

Increase User Adoption of Your 3D Printer Designs

There are specific techniques you can use in a systematic way to make sure your 3D printable designs are being downloaded, printed and used by people that would benefit from the design. In my recent blog post on MakerShop I talk about 3 techniques you can use to increase adoption of your 3D printer models.

The first technique is to write down use cases that define what the user’s goal is and the steps the user can take using your 3D printed design to accomplish that goal. User goals are simply something the user desires, like getting an everyday task done faster. A use case is a single way that the user/consumer can achieve that. If you find yourself discouraged about not being able to invent something new with 3D printing, then flip your perspective.

Inventing something that can only be 3D printed should not be your goal, unless you’re a rocket scientist. The practical way for you to really make an impact and increase user adoption of your designs is to make things that people can use to achieve their everyday goals.

The second technique I write about is the importance of optimizing your 3D printer design for printing. If you design this awesome thing that you want everyone to use, but it takes 8 hours to print and requires a lot of post-print cleanup, then you will hurt your user adoption rate.

I’ve been working with a 3D printer designer local to Charlotte, NC who has taught me the importance of this optimization technique. His name is Ali Bahar if you want to contact him. Sometimes it requires altering the design, designing for minimal supports and making multiple pieces print side-by-side. There is a point of diminishing returns, where the cost of the material is the major roadblock, but make sure your design isn’t adding any extra complications. The main test I use to understand if I should stop optimizing or not is to ask the question, “Can the design be changed to reduce costs and complexity and still help the user achieve their goal?” If the answer is yes then I optimize more and if the answer is no then I stop and release the design.

The third technique to increase user adoption is to demonstrate to everyone visiting your website or other sales channels how other users have used your design to reach their goals. If you have seen the Wolf of Wall Street, then you have learned an important lesson about sales and thus user adoption as well. People do not want to hear about how nice your design is. People want to know what your design can do for them. Even more simply put, people don’t want to be convinced of needing to take action. They want a desire they currently hold to instantly be met using your design. Using videos, photos and write-ups of real people using your design to do just that goes a long way in demonstrating to people that simply by getting your design in their hands they will be on the road to reaching that goal of theirs.

A simple test I use for this is to ask myself, “Am I using nouns to describe my design or I am I using nouns and verbs to describe the user of my design.” I want to talk using nouns and verbs to describe the user of my design. This includes how I write copy on the shop pages on 3D printer marketplace MakerShop as well as any audio in videos.