Why Didn't We Think of This Sooner?!

January 2, 2015

These words can be dangerous. They can create a culture where designers are punished for not coming up with the perfect solution the first time.

A better response would be, “Great, we found a solution!” A healthy process understands that you couldn’t have arrived at the great idea without going through the work of exploring other ideas first. All the ideas that get thrown away aren’t a waste of time, they’re the path that led you to the right idea.

As the saying goes, hindsight is 20/20. It’s easy to look back and say you should have realized the solution sooner. But there is simply no way to jump to the right solution faster than trying an idea, seeing what doesn’t work, and iterating. Over time as you solve more problems you might be able to get to solutions with fewer iterations. But when you’re solving a new problem it’s hard to say how many iterations it will take or what the direct path to the solution is.