Open a Messy Kitchen

5 open a messy kitchen

Not everything needs a perfect face. Not everything needs to be finished before it’s launched. This lens is a little like “always in beta” but it’s perhaps a little more intentional, with the aim of designing a system that creates culture.* Companies that release things before they’re completely cooked-through (potentially with the intent to improve them later) gain a benefit beyond speed/being earlier-to-market. By leaving things a little under-done, you’re able to create a space that invites play and interaction.

My favorite metaphor for this is from Clay Shirky: a perfectly manicured, magazine-ready kitchen inspires standoffish awe from party guests, where a lived-in, human, messy kitchen asks guests to grab an apron and chop carrots.

I’m certainly not against polish. There’s something amazing in a perfectly shot ad, in the build quality of the iPhone, in House of Cards, in the interface of Artsy. But if the environments (digital and real) you’re creating are intended to create culture, I believe you’re better off with something that looks like Reddit than you are with something that looks like Branch. (And I love Branch, no dis’ intended.)

Be messy. Release early. Build for cultural production.

*There’s a corollary to this: in general, on the internet, you can kill anything that hasn’t inspired or generated its own culture.

Principles for Digital Strategy

  1. Victory is Proximity + Speed
  2. Cultures Can Flow
  3. Be Thrifty as F*ck
  4. Build For Yourself
  5. Open a Messy Kitchen
  6. Care
  7. Utility Beats Content

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