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The leap of faith

Last week on a flight to Barcelona I took out a book that had been sat at the bottom of my bag for some time. It was one of those books recommended by a colleague, added to my basket in Amazon then promptly forgotten about until the boredom of a two hour flight became too much. The Radical Leap by Steve Farber is not new (2004) and has since been followed up by the Radical Edge and the Radical Leap Re-energized, all on my next shopping list!

What I like about this short book is that it reminds and reinforces some important lessons I’ve learned in the past. None more so important than what Farber’s friend Edg calls the OS!M or Oh Shit! Moment. Those times in your career where you’ve pushed past the comfort zone and taken a leap into the unknown. Where you’ve gone with your gut feeling, where all the data you have doesn’t predict what will happen, where¬†you take a chance on your instinct and do something that sets you apart from those around you. Just for a second you feel that Oh Shit! moment.

These things may not always turn out a complete success, at least it may not be obvious what the success is at the time, but it demonstrates your conviction for the cause you believe in. It describes what I’ve called the ‘leap of faith’ with my colleagues in recent years. When designing an experience, or anything for that matter, it’s human nature to want to get it right first time, to make it perfect and there’s nothing wrong with that. The question is how do you know it’s perfect before you’ve even given it to anyone? The truth is you don’t.

There are many approaches out there that proclaim to help you get it right first time but the minute you rely wholly on a methodology you are sanitising the work. It starts to lose its passion and feeling and fits a mould used by many other products. It’s no longer something users will love, it just becomes something they use. There is nothing wrong with methodologies but they are there to get you started. You combine them with your previous knowledge and experience but even that doesn’t take you all the way. The last mile is the leap of faith, or the Oh Shit! moment, when you add that individual touch to the experience that makes it something special and shows your users you care about how they use your product.

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