True Scarcity

Interview with Fred Brooks author of the Mythical Man Month in Wired written by Kevin Kelly can be found here. As Stephen Dubner points out in his Freakonomics blog, Fred makes the interesting point that the scarce resource on a project isn’t always money, time or people. For example, when building an oceanfront property the constraint is beachfront square footage, on the first NASA moon landing, the constraint was lightness. Therefore determining what your true contrainst is can help you stay focused on non-traditional projects.

Fred also subscribes to the principle, from Edwin Land, of starting with the vision and working back from that to a technically feasible design rather than aggregating a set of attainable features together to create whatever vision results, which might be easier but has less impact. He argues working back from an ambitious vision is the model that Apple follows to achieve visionary design.

He also mentions that he’s changed his thinking from doing a first design and then throwing it away and building a second version, towards a process of ongoing iteration.

The Wired article can be read online here.

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