Why crossing domains is the best thing you’ll ever do
The start up scene, for all its ups and downs, is a great place to hang out. Events like Pitchrs bring us together so that we can pay it forward, and drink a brewery dry while we do it. There are a million meetups that can cater to every budding hacker’s, designer’s or founder’s dream.
We even have accelerators that can pimp up start-ups to look like a boy racer’s Saturday night wet dream.
The feedback that accelerated that pimped out Peugeot into its current incarnation is common to all domains. Each domain, be it start-ups or pimping your car, has its leaders and followers who apparently live it and are puritanical about it. Each creates its own echo chamber where all chime and resonate with each other about their domain – whether it’s negative or positive.
The echo chamber allows us to listen to what we enjoy, to participate, and to feel that we’re progressing in our aims. In reality, progress often isn’t known or measured correctly. For some of us, the echoes in our start-up domain are so powerful that we believe that a pivot is the only valid solution while there’s cash in the bank (hint: it depends). The echoes become us and we lose our place in the grander scheme.
When was the last time you did something for the first time? What was the last life-changing lesson you learnt? How does design affect our goals? What’s our current burn rate? What valuation method works for us? What pricing model will drive growth?
We read these questions and think of our own context. Our domain shapes how we interpret what’s around us. Are these questions any different for the new bakery that just opened around the corner? The car tuning workshop? The new dance studio? For the new orchestra, pricing model innovation resulted in consistently higher revenues.
Each domain has its own context, and within it, its own questions and answers.
Staying in our own domain means so many missed opportunities and we end up giving the world innovations at the scale of ‘Pinterest but with rewards’. Are we really solving anyone’s real problems any more?
Venturing out, we also learn about ourselves. I’m told we make Porsche claims with pimped out Peugeots; while the debate about SMEs and job creation continues; and sky high valuations for companies who have no revenue nor revenue model are met with confusion and amazement (Instagram, GroupMe, Siri, Tweetdeck are great examples). Some see us as a waste of money and talent, with bigger problems like population and energy being a better use. We cannot argue with these opinions—only seek to explore them.
Crossing domains allows us to discover what others’ questions and answers are.
As problem solvers (founders|designers|hackers), we like to think we can solve problems in any domain. Solving problems is child’s play, but being better than their existing solutions is hard. To succeed, we need to make our own solutions an order of magnitude better. To really succeed, we need to enable them to make their own solutions an order of magnitude better. And, to crush it, if they own the solution, they will stick with it and promote it. This happens to be a key element of crowd-funding.
As people, we will find meaning in other domains. We’ll understand that the pain and the pleasures are not too different to ours, though how it’s experienced and expressed will surprise us. We’ll find that the answers to our problems have been solved long ago, in ways that seemed impossible. People are resourceful but act within their means.
In crossing domains, we’ll find more questions than answers. We will find that opportunity lies where we least expect it. We’ll learn more about the world and ourselves than we could ever imagine. And, along the way, we’ll find what we love and the money will follow. Don’t believe me? There’s only one way to find out…