First, Let’s Do Something Useful
by Dwayne Phillips
When introducing something new, it helps to do something useful at the beginning and then delve into more details and more powerful capabilities later.
I am interested in robotics, software, and my grandchildren. The intersection of these centers on my grandchildren and finding things for them to do when they visit me. I want them to visit me often, and if they have something interesting to do, they will visit me often. Learning for both me and my grandchildren is a big side benefit.
There are many little projects that we could do. One problem exists with the many took kits out there: it takes hours and hours of effort to do the first thing. There are simple tool kits that will do one thing with minimal time and effort. That, however, is the end. The tool kit does nothing else.
We can acquire many other tool kits that will do just about anything we can imagine. The problem with these is that they require many hours of effort before anything happens. There is no positive feedback to keep a person going.
This situation of tool kits not doing anything early extends far beyond robotics kits and grandchildren. I have seen it many times in my profession. You need three weeks of training before you can hit the power on button. Gosh.
Systems need to do something useful right out of the box. The users need some feedback — now. Exhortations of, “Yes, this is really slow at first, but after a while you will see the benefits,” don’t work. In the real working world “after a while” almost never arrives. People have jobs to do — now. People need tools that provide help — now. Show people benefit now, and they will continue with the tool.
We can do this. We can do better than “benefit will come after a while.” That applies to working professionals and grandchildren as well.