Letters to a friend...


A Curious Mind W(o/a)nders...- http://ayanwonders.blogspot.com/

Saturday, July 16, 2005

What's intuitive?

Well this question is the after-effect of a discussion with a friend yesterday...I've thought about this question many times earlier too, yet haven't been able to come up with a precise solution that satisfies me completely (ok, accepted very few things satisfy me :-)).

By intuitive I'm not referring to an approach to solving maths problems...what I'm refering to is the most natural way of doing things. Say wearing a sari is intuitive to our mothers (I'm not referring to new age moms), or using a mobile is intuitive to most people on this campus or using e-mails is intuitive to a whole generation brought up on computers. (maybe blogging will become intuitive for the next generation :-))

Any new technology/innovation changes what is intuitive, or what is the most prevelant way of doing things at the time of introduction of the technology/innovation. And that's one reason why new technology/innovation finds difficulty in gaining acceptance.
A walk-man changed the way I listened to music, and initially it wasn't intuitive or natural with those headphones and that bulk in my pocket, but nowadays it's almost as passe as doing anything else. Take any innovation in any field and you'll find this dilemma. It initially starts off by being very counter-intuitive to the 'usual' way till a point in time comes when the counter-intuitive becomes intuitive. And yet new technologies try their best to be as intuitive as possible in the the prevelant circumstances of introduction.

But what is currently intuitive is the result of a previous innovation...in trying to confirm to that definition of intuitive am I not cutting down on the quantum of innovation I would otherwise create. An ape-man would find everything counter-intuitive in even dida's (grandma's) generation, and if we had stuck to keeping new innovations intuitive from then on, would we have progressed at all?

On the other hand by being counter-intuitive, any new technology creates or exacerbates divisions in the society. Sometimes an entire segment falls behind in the march of progress because they're not able to get intuitive enough with something new and it's not always their fault. And this could be prevented if one could provide the new capabilities under garb of the existing intuitiveness. But how long would that be feasible?

I'm not sure, but my feeling is that in the long run only the 'best' innovation thrives irrespective of whether it's intuitive or not (what's intuitive will change if the innovation is worth it).

But there are two things that are important:

- Humans have a capability to accept jumps but that capability is limited if the time-frame is limited. So in the short run, that technology/innovation would do best (from the business point of view) that lies within this capability-band.
(There are some theories to judge this capability-band but I'm not too convinced with atleast the ones I've read...and for my own theory...another post...keep reading this blog :-)).

- The rules change completely from one intuitive framework to another (the new technology/innovation, the reason for this change). So if there are many competing innovations, it is imperative for the competitors to realise when the intuitive jump has happened among the target segment. Once the intuitive jump happens, the rules, the framework and even competition is completely different. The competitor might at best become a marginal player among an unitiated fraction of the segment. So if you are a competitor, you have to attack with all you have, before or at least when this change in intuitive framework is happening.
(Again there are many theories to judge the stage in this leap of intuitive frames, and again I'm not too happy with any...yes, I have my own theory and no I won't reveal it in this post :-D).

Well, I guess I've started repeating myself too much :-), so will conclude this post here but there's a lot more in my mind on this and hopefully I'll post all that sometime soon...


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