Greetings wonderful readers and happy 2019! It’s my first post of the new year, and I’m psyched to be publishing here again. The end of 2018 was a whirlwind; you may remember me mentioning in my last post, I moved (still in SF) last month. I’m happy to report that, aside from some appliance issues, we’re mostly settled into our new home.
The idea I want to share with you today is actually more of a question I find myself asking both in my personal and professional life. That question is, “will it scale?”
Why is this an important question? Given a random problem, there’s a high probability that there are actually many solutions. But not all solutions will work under all circumstances. Asking, “does this solution scale?” is essential when determining if an idea will work for the masses.
Suppose I suddenly want to share my secret chocolate chip cookie recipe with the world. One way to do this is to find a friend, invite them over for a baking lesson, then carefully cook the recipe with that person and repeat. I love cooking with friends, but the object was to share it with as many people as possible. So now I need a better way to teach my cookie baking secrets. A more scalable version of this solution might be to record the video of me cooking the recipe and then upload that video to YouTube. Now, I’ve taken the same idea but used a tool for leverage to reach more people.
Big businesses offer their customers value and create profit at scale. Designing and building these scaled solutions requires you to think in systems. Getting from point A to point B might be easy for just one person, but getting one million people from A to B exposes you to entirely new hurdles.
Not every problem needs a scaled solution, though. Artisans of this world thrive on scarce systems. E.g., you will only ever see this concert tonight, this ring is a one-of-a-kind masterpiece, or that guitar was custom made. Doing something that can’t be scaled is another way to create value for customers (but that’s another blog post).
Our job as we navigate this world is to think about our problems and decide if they are the kind that need one-off fixes or more scalable systemic solutions. Which brings me to the shameless plug portion of this blog post. If you’d like to help me scale this site, please consider sharing this post with a friend or making a donation. I’m trying to become better at reaching and helping more people. I know this site will help me do that, and I appreciate your continued support over the years.
If you have any interesting problems that need scalable solutions, I’d love to read about them in the comments below, or feel free to reply back to this email if you’re subscribed. Thanks for reading, and here’s to a healthy mind, body, and spirit in the year ahead.