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When You’re on a Good Thing, Stick to It!

Liz Watson

When You're on a Good Thing, Stick to It!

Ideas don’t seem to be the problem… it’s about being determined to see them through.

I came across Sugru via a Ted talk and was intrigued to hear more from Jane Ní Dhulchaointigh, the talent behind the Sugru.

Sugru is a self-setting rubber that can be formed by hand, like play dough, bonds to almost anything and then sets to become super strong. Sugru allows you to alter, fix, make, up-cylce or add to existing products to create something new or fix an issue. Sounds pretty simple, but no. Like all simple ideas, the process and time involved weren’t so easy.

What started out as a university project has since moved into a winning design idea that has picked up a swag of awards and followers (Over 285,000 people in 138 countries are using it to make their stuff work better).

This line caught my attention on the website–While studying for my MA in Product Design (read ‘playing and experimenting with materials’) at the RCA in London, I had a bit of an idea. “I don’t want to buy new stuff all the time. I want to hack the stuff I already have so it works better for me.” (I didn’t really say it out loud. I just thought it.)

Jane was studying in 2003, her product was officially launched in 2009, by June 2012 they expand to reach 100,000 customers. To me, this seems like a VERY long time to be focusing on one singular design idea.

In the time she has developed this project, I have lived abroad, travelled, had four different jobs, started a company and drank way too much wine but not one singular idea has remained true to its original form.  They have all ebbed and flowed, with different outcomes and quite a few ’idea deaths’.

Scott Belsky talked at SLQ last year, as part of the Portable Presents series. His notion of the Idea Plateau has stuck with me… pardon the pun!

‘The project plateau is littered with the carcases of dead ideas that have never happened. What do we do? We just generate a new idea. We do it again and again and again. What we continue to do is we escape this project plateau with a new idea, and instantaneously we return to this high of excitement, this willingness to execute. And this is why there are more half-written novels in the world than there are novels.” Scott Belsky

Sugru is a product that is dictated by its user. Each outcome is unique and can’t be replicated. So maybe its the fact that the idea uses problem solving in each and every step and almost always creates new outcomes that has kept Jane motivated? Inspired by the user outcomes, maybe Jane never reaches the project plateau we all seem to reach… or maybe she is just cut from a different cloth?

Have you ever had an idea that won’t go away?

How do you manage to avoid the idea plateau over an extended period of time?


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