Strong Prototypes, Weakly Held

Excuse any obtuse thoughts that make their way into this writing. I sat down to type with My Life in the Bush of Ghosts by Brian Eno and David Byrne as my soundtrack. This is an album I've never listened to before, and apparently I'm supposed to love it or hate it. Mostly the Internet told me this could be a decent album to work to, so let's find out.

(I'm not going to look, but I'm pretty sure Strunk & White would tell me not to capitalize that "in" in the album title. Yet when I look at Apple Music the title has an "In." Spotify has an "In" and a "The" and an "Of." And people give Wikipedia a hard time?)

So about that title. We here at Good Enough have decided to enter a season of prototyping. Our company has a goal to reach sustainability within five years. As with all time, the end of 2027 will likely come sooner than we think. Yet we are planning to spend all of this first year as a full team on things that are not clearly going to pave the road to profitability. Goodness, why?

We believe in ideas. When Good Enough was just Shawn and I, we had tens of ideas. Now that we are six of us, the ideas are getting into the hundreds. In terms of providing value for money, many of the ideas are bad. (Many are also bad in terms of any objective measure!) A handful of them are pretty good, though. Several handfuls of them seem quite interesting. How do we make a decision about which idea(s) we commit to building into software that we can be proud of?

We also believe that ideas aren't worth the paper upon which they are printed. An idea for a product, written down, can spark interest and inspiration, but it is not altogether real. An idea for a product, written down, hasn't had an encounter with reality. An idea for a product, written down, is like a block of clay with only the hands of speculation working it. For us it is better to get into the sculpting of the idea. It is better to play in space with the shape of the idea, not just the…idea of the idea.

Prototypes are our way to do this. We will begin with the tools we know: paper, pen, Figma, Excalidraw, Ruby on Rails, JavaScript, Postgres, and CSS. Generally the things we build will be play-withable, and the more we want to play with them the more sophisticated they will become. Many of those things could be played with by others of you, so please do sign up for our newsletter to hear the latest.

Our bet is on the countless moments of discovery along the way as we build and use these prototypes. The ideas-made-real will crash into us and you and each other. We'll learn how they don't work, how they do work, and how they could work together. Just as clay goes from block to outline to sculpture to mound to sculpture to mound to sculpture to… (you get the idea) so will our prototypes.

By the end of 2023 we expect to have a much better understanding of what could succeed, where we can provide something valuable, and what sparks excitement in all of us.

And if that doesn't work, we can always build a project management suite.