For many everyday tasks goals and intentions are not

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For many everyday tasks, goals and intentions are not well specified: they are opportunistic rather than planned. Opportunistic actions are those in which the behavior takes advantage of circumstances. Rather than engage in extensive planning and analysis, we go about the day s activities and do things as opportunities arise. Thus, we may not have planned to try a new caf or to ask a question of a friend. Rather, we go through the day s activities, and if we find ourselves near the caf or encountering the friend, then we allow the opportunity to trigger the appropriate activity. Otherwise, we might never get to that caf or ask our friend the question. For crucial tasks we make special efforts to ensure that they get done. Opportunistic actions are less precise and certain than specified goals and intentions, but they result in less mental effort, less inconvenience, and perhaps more interest. Some of us adjust our lives around the expectation of opportunities. And sometimes, even for goal-driven behavior, we try to create world events that will ensure that the sequence gets completed. For example, sometimes when I must do an important task, I ask someone to set a deadline for me. I use the approach of that deadline to trigger the work. It may only be a few hours before the deadline that I actually get to work and do the job, but the important point is that it does get done. This self-triggering of external drivers is fully compatible with the seven-stage analysis. The seven stages provide a guideline for developing new products or services. The gulfs are obvious places to start, for either gulf, whether of execution or evaluation, is an opportunity for product enhancement. The trick is to develop observational skills to detect them. Most innovation is done as an incremental enhancement of existing products. What about radical ideas, ones that introduce new product categories to the marketplace? These come about by
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reconsidering the goals, and always asking what the real goal is: what is called the root cause analysis. Harvard Business School marketing professor Theodore Levitt once pointed out, People don t want to buy a quarter-inch drill. 44 The Design of Everyday Things They want a quarter-inch hole! Levitt s example of the drill implying that the goal is really a hole is only partially correct, however. When people go to a store to buy a drill, that is not their real goal. But why would anyone want a quarter-inch hole? Clearly that is an intermediate goal. Perhaps they wanted to hang shelves on the wall. Levitt stopped too soon. Once you realize that they don t really want the drill, you realize that perhaps they don t really want the hole, either: they want to install their bookshelves. Why not develop methods that don t require holes? Or perhaps books that don t require bookshelves. (Yes, I know: electronic books, e-books.) Human Thought: Mostly Subconscious Why do we need to know about the human mind? Because things are designed to be used by people, and without a deep understanding
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