Too Many Tools

Have you ever worked for or with a company that gave you too many tools? It's obvious that they mean well, and that they're enthusiastic and creative and want to help you. The trouble is, you no sooner begin to understand one tool before another shows up, and another, and another... reinventing the wheel in an effort to help you succeed.

To keep from being that company, and to help any vendors that you may deal with that already are that company, may I humbly suggest this post as a pass-along?

Here is how to do tools right:
  • You have competitors. They have tools. Look at them all.
  • Ask your Customers - as many Customers as possible - which tools they actually use, and why. Write this down.
  • Create NOTHING - yet. (I know it's hard. You want to make something today - yesterday, if possible. But you know what? Sending 5 tools, one right after another as another brilliant idea hits you is going to get your tools sent to the circular file without even being opened, because your Customer knows another, better version is just weeks away. Always.)
  • Remember: People don't want to learn anything new. You can't change that. Don't try - you will only waste all of your money, time, and sanity. People don't want a cam-retractable, variable speed, percussive impact device. People want a hammer. 
  • Simple, simple, simple. A tool can do as many as 3 things, provided they are simple things. If you try to make it do more than 3 things, your Customer's faces will melt and they will become brain-devouring zombies. This has been proven by science.
  • Put your name on the tool. You want them to remember who made that wonderful hammer that they use every day to kill zombies, don't you? Damn straight.
  • Make the tool as durable and as cheaply as possible. Expensive tools either get lost or don't get used. This has also been proven by science. Unseen University did the field work. Really.
  • Before you make your tool, go watch people use tools. I know they told you what they use and why, but remember: people lie.
  • Think. Think some more. Think again. 9 times out of 10, speed is the enemy of successful execution. You're just going to have to trust me on this one.
  • When you are finally sure you have invented a hammer, have not reinvented the wheel, made it to last, made it cheap and, above all, made it useful, create your tool.
  • Go home. Sleep. You done good!

Last but not least: If you have to explain how your tool works, it's not a tool. It's an obstacle.

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