๐Ÿ““ The Next Most Useful Thing

Tom Critchlow talks about going beyond the right answer to instead positing the ‘next most useful thing’.

Iโ€™ve been using this phrase โ€œthe next most useful thingโ€ as a guiding light for my consulting work – Iโ€™m obsessed with being useful not just right. Iโ€™ve always rejected the fancy presentation in favor of the next most useful thing, and I simply took my eye off the ball with this one. Iโ€™m not even sure the client views this project as a real disappointment, there was still some value in it, but Iโ€™m mad at myself personally for this one. A good reminder not to take your eye off the ball. And to push your clients beyond what they tell you the right answer is.

This reminds me about Donald Winnicott’s notion of ‘good enough mother’.

Winnicott thought that the “good enough mother” starts out with an almost complete adaptation to her baby’s needs. She is entirely devoted to the baby and quickly sees to his every need. She sacrifices her own sleep and her own needs to fulfill the needs of her infant.

As time goes by, however, the mother allows the infant to experience small amounts of frustration. She is empathetic and caring but does not immediately rush to the baby’s every cry. Of course, at first the time-limit to this frustration must be very short. She may allow the baby to cry for a few minutes before her nighttime feeding, but only for a few minutes. She is not “perfect” but she is “good enough” in that the child only feels a slight amount of frustration.

So often when developing ideas, it can be easy to get caught up with the ideal, rather than coming up with an idea that responds to the situation at hand.

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