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A Plan of Action

For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it?” — Luke 14:28

It’s not every day I quote the Bible. All the rarer that I quote from the New Testament, given the fact that I’m Jewish.

But I happened upon this passage for the first time a couple months ago while I was reading Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover, and it really struck me. Though Ramsey uses it to make a point about financial planning, my brief research tells me that it is attributed to Jesus, regarding the cost of being a disciple.

If you’re going to devote yourself to a cause, and want to succeed, first you need to determine whether you’ll have the ability to endure.

This has applicability in all aspects of our lives: using our money, running a business, being in a relationship. I call it Preactive Procedure, in contrast to Reactive Procedure.

Perhaps put another way, do you lead with your id or your superego?

I see a lot of products developed using the Reactive Procedure:

  1. I’m scratching my itch.
  2. Should I keep scratching this itch?
  3. I’ll scratch this other itch.

As a user experience designer, consultant, and member of the NY tech community, I instead advocate for using the Preactive Procedure:

  1. Who’s itchy?
  2. That itch isn’t being scratched.
  3. This is how to scratch that itch.

By taking this approach, there’s a much higher likelihood of success — true understanding of needs, widespread value, and a sustainable solution. Most of all, there’s purpose.

Purpose is everything to me. Simon Sinek puts it more concretely than anyone with his Why? How? What? statement. By starting with why, we understand and acknowledge the “driving motivation for action.” This is much more meaningful than, “I’m itchy.” Instead of acting from our id, we act with our superego. We look outside ourselves for the answers. We dedicate ourselves to a greater mission.

But this, too, is just masturbation. The product becomes secondary to the process. We concern ourselves far too much with the theoretical and neglect the practical.

Campbell McKellar, founder of Loosecubes, is the first person to make me realize that there’s something even better than the Preactive Procedure — the Proactive Procedure.

By acting sooner, you are actually achieving more. You are creating the future instead of just predicting and accommodating for it. You are inventing a new reality, based half in what people need, and half in what you want them to have. You can observe behavior sooner and course-correct. It is the most transformative of all three procedures for both the subject and the object. In other words, it’s leading with your ego.

This is the way to balance user experience and business vision. It is the holy grail of product strategy. And it’s a new mentality I’m ready to try on for size.

[Some inspiration for this post]

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