Fuck Innovation, Everything We Have Now is Shit

In a product sense, the last couple weeks have sucked.

I keep trying to buy simple things that literally have one job and finding that it’s impossible to get something that works, in order of complexity:

  • a gantt chart flow-planning tool
  • a clear glass beverage dispenser to hold iced coffee at BaconBizConf
  • clip magnets

I spent several hours of my life trying an “innovative!!” graphical project planning tool that did everything but actually let you re-flow your project planning in a graphical way.

I spent a couple hours of my life looking for a clear glass beverage dispenser. They all leak.

Clip magnets: Can you get any simpler? No. And yet, after quite some time invested, I ended up ordering ones that cost $4 apiece off eBay, because all the ones in stock elsewhere had bad reviews.

Breathless review of a clip magnet that OMG ACTUALLY WORKS unlike all the other ones

Who knew magnets could be so exciting? Anyone who struggles daily from a shitty product, that’s who.

And then there’s “innovative” Nest Protect smoke alarms known to reliably give off false alarms; the “innovative” color-changing LIFX light bulb that won’t let me change its color; the “innovative” networked door locks that randomly lock you out.

Fuck “innovation”

The things we use every day are so disgustingly terrible, there’s unending opportunity. We don’t need novelty, we need better.

Because every day we have to deal with:

Beverage dispensers that leak.

Magnet clips that can’t hold paper up.

Phones that can barely make phone calls.

Email services by the King of Search that can barely search. (And that force you to open multiple browser windows in order to look up past emails — from the same person — while writing a new one.)

Customer support tools that force your customers to sign up just to report a major issue. And then go down.

Ecommerce tools that issue refunds, but won’t notify the customer, forcing you to email them a screenshot.

If programmers wrote math textbooks… Step 1: 2+2. Step 2: DIFFERENTIAL CALCULUS!

Time tracking tools that force you to waste 5 minutes configuring a new project before you can actually track the 5 minutes you spent on that project.

Books that claim to “help you learn!” but that leap from 2+2 to differential calculus in a single bound.

Digital, on-screen calendars that can do anything but that still, in 2014, insist on showing you one calendar “page” — one month — at a time.

Web apps for collaborative book-writing that won’t let you drag reorder your chapters, but force you to name (and rename, and rename) the bits 1., 2., 3., 10., 20., like you’re back on an Apple //c writing BASIC…

Apps that will automatically save all your work & restore to their previous state if they crash — but, when you choose to quit, force you to save all your work by hand, document by document.

And, for fuck’s sake, there isn’t a single simple project planning tool on the web that automatically reflows dates based on changing dependencies. I know this to be true, because I’ve looked, and looked, and looked.

10 000ft

This app looks like it should do what I want. But guess what? It doesn’t! Change the length of one of the stages in this chart, and it will randomly reorder the stages on a new line. And elsewhere it sorts stuff alphabetically, not by date or dependency. BRILLIANT.

“You had one job”… and now you do

Most of the products we use today, even and especially the simplest ones that have one job, barely work. And it’s getting worse.

The products that exist suck so much, there is endless opportunity.

Mine the pain. Fix it. Profit.


How can you get started?

This is the approach in a nutshell:

  1. pick people to serve (who pay for things)
  2. figure out what hurts them
  3. help them kill that pain
  4. PROFIT!

I’ve used this approach to create & launch ebooks, workshops, video courses, conferences, and of course SaaS. I’ve even used it to sell consulting. Recently our SaaS, Freckle Time Tracking, alone crossed $1,000,000 in lifetime revenue. Because things pretty much universally suck, a pain-killing focus can help you make a killing.

Now, I know it’s easy for me to say “figure out what hurts them and help them kill it” ± but it’s not so easy to do. That’s why Alex and I teach it.

I’ve taught the same process to hundreds of students in our 30×500 product class, and their combined revenue is over $1.3 mil already and growing every day.

You can learn all the steps of our 30×500 methodology right here: How do you create a product people want to buy?.

There’s even more detail in our 7-part series, which you can get delivered to your inbox for free… and leave the “innovative” bullshit behind.

Get our 7-day no-BS guide to avoiding common startup mistakes

Discussion

  1. Ralph Haygood

    It’s true, an awful lot of the stuff we use (or try to use) on a daily basis is awfully crappy. That goes for some of the world’s most popular software. For example, as a former Facebook engineer put it, “Facebook is the buggiest software I use regularly, by a wide margin.” (http://b.qr.ae/1kA2f7K) I think one general reason is that investors tend to be more impressed by novelty (or something they can see how to spin as novelty) than quality. They’re easily intimidated by dominant incumbents like Facebook, so they like the notion of creating a new market better than competing in an existing one. What many of them really love is a shiny new fad like Secret. Most aspiring product creators think they need investors, so investor attitudes are influential. Making things not just newer but actually better is mostly up to those of us willing and able to do without investors.

    Reply
  2. Joe

    Amy I’ve read all your stuff and love it. I’ve used many of your techniques and was interested in signing up for your last boot camp but I’m not a designer or coder so I didn’t meet the requirements. I’m doing a safari on my own right now (using your free materials) for thyroid patients and coaches in partnership with a thyroid doctor. If you setup a group of beta readers for your book please let me know I can’t wait to read it!

    Reply
  3. Joanna Wiebe

    I’m so glad you said it. Thank you for saying it. I get sooo frustrated on a regular basis by the promise of ease and speed that comes with technology, in particular, and the extremely weak follow-through on that promise.

    Case in point: I use Camtasia to record my screen. When you save a recording in Camtasia, it saves as “capture-1” unless you change the name; okay, fine. Problem is that, when you try to edit a file with a hyphen in its name, Camtasia gives you an error message. Like, really? You put the hyphen in the name, and now you’re bitching at me for it??? You have to close the program and resave the file. Of course they release product updates without fixing this problem, even though their users have filled their forum with complaints about it. Alas, Camtasia has more than one job to do, but they should probably stop ‘innovating’ before they fix what’s already there. IMHO.

    Reply
  4. Romain

    You are so right, I have spent my entire week-end trying all online gantt tools. There is not a single one that actually does the job. Unbelievable !!! I am coding mine from today…

    Reply

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