Is your product “The Grass”?

THE CHANGE AGENT

Seven million years ago, our primate ancestor lived safely, happily in the trees.

A new creature came, invaded his neighbourhood, completely transformed the world. This new creature had a profound effect on the emergence of modern human beings — It might be impossible to believe, that this new creature is GRASS.

Recent climate changes had made grasslands to appear simultaneously all over the world from Africa to North America to Argentina. Grasslands invaded traditional woodland forests resulting in fewer trees spread widely apart.

Dwindling food resources forced some of the apes to leave the comfort of trees, get down to the grasslands and look for food. The primates were forced to keep their heads above the tall grass to see any signs of lurking dangers, predators and spot the prey. Grasslands were better suited to primates that walk on two legs. Evolution of bipedal mechanism — a significant moment in human evolution.

This freed up the hands for other purposes, perform very intricate tasks — another moment in human evolution.

Open grasslands evolved the ‘Endurance Limit’ of primates — Less hairy, more sweat glands — if you run for a long time, sweating, evaporation dissipated heat and cooled down the body. Primates would outrun the prey to kill them and eat.

We were hunter gatherers for millions of years, living a fairly comfortable life spending our time in stimulating ways, were less in danger of starvation and disease. All this changed 10,000 years ago — It changed the way humans lived — It slowly made humans to fight bloody battles, made them violent — The one discovery that changed the life of the planet and human beings — humans learnt to plant seeds — The seeds that came from the same plant, which heralded emergence of modern humans — The GRASS — Wheat, Millet, Rice, Maize, Barley, -A huge family of wild plants were discovered — Vast supply of grain — the dawn of Agricultural Revolution that sparked human progress.

Once again, the GRASS changed our world. Like Grass, many people had helped in changing our world(I agree that none could match the impact of Grass) — The list could go on if I start naming them. Many disruptive products were like Grass which changed the human’s way of life. Till iPhone was launched, nobody was aware that he or she needed a smartphone. Every disruptive product has to be like a grass transforming the world. Most of the users may not be aware of their hidden needs, desires and like Grass, we as a designer need to show them the way to lead a better life

THE SACRIFICER

It feels nice to walk, sit, lie down and roll over the grass. A soft cushion, wet prickly needles, an expansive sky forcing our mind to go blank and enjoy the moment, the caressing sunlight, the smell, the sense of floating into a mindless state. When we lie down, we do not think about grass and it becomes invisible in our experiential state. Grass takes us to a different mental and physical state, elevating our experiences, relaxing our mind.

Promise a better life and not a better product to customers.

Don’t design a product/service, Design an “Experience” — Don’t just meet the needs, wants — Go beyond what customers have imagined — Surprise them -Connect these with your passion, strengths, skills.

THE TEACHER WHOM DOESN’T TEACH BUT LETS US TO LEARN

Due to limited working memory, humans are always looking for mental shortcuts to reduce cognitive load — One way to reduce cognitive load is to build a habit — repeating the action. Grass lets you explore your own paths, create a shortcut for regular trips to save your mental and physical energy. The Grass makes the path you and your team had taken visible to others so that they could follow the newly formed path rather than wasting time to rediscover the shortcut.

A bad design is where you need to teach a user to use the product. A good design is where a user could learn on his own to use the product.

The more the user explores, more the interest in the product. The more the user spends time in customizing, the more he gets addicted to the product. The more the convenience, more the followers the user could bring to use the product.

DIFFERENT CONTEXTS, DIFFERENT USERS

The grass is a versatile life-form. It evolved to grow under different contexts — It grows in wetlands, rain forests, tundra, dry deserts, cold mountains, intertidal habitats — Certain type of grasses had developed a specific photosynthetic pathway to increase efficiency of water consumption so that it could adapt better to hot, arid conditions, survive in places where C02 is less.

The grass is consumed by a wide variety of animals, insects — The grass had evolved to meet the requirements of such a wide variety of consumers — Livestock, deer, elephants, butterflies, grasshoppers, rabbits, horses, kangaroo, ants, moths.

ABILITY

Ability means that a user needs less effort, time, cognitive effort to do the activities to achieve his or her goal

We knew how ruminants take food in bulk in a hurry, then how it re-chews the cud again after some time — Ruminants have evolved to eat more in quick time to escape the predators — Unless the grass is easier to be removed from the soil, it would not be possible for the ruminants to eat faster.

Grass blades grow at the base of the blade and not from elongated stem tips. This low growth point evolved in response to grazing animals and allows grasses to be grazed regularly without severe damage to the plant.

RE-INVENTION

Grasses are not just sources of food and energy — They were used as thatches, paper, fuel, clothing, insulation, fencing, furniture, construction material, floor mats, sports turf, baskets etc.. They were used to make beer in earlier civilizations. Homes with grass lawns were the symbol of luxury for upper middle-class men. Certain types of grasses were used as perfumery in older civilizations. Their applications were limitless.

Whatever the product we design if we allow some scope for the user to modify/innovate the product to meet their needs, thereby improving its overall compatibility. If there is scope for reinvention, product’s usage will increase and cater to a variety of needs of customers. Post-its notes were successful for 3M because it allowed users to find their creative ways to use the product. Short Messaging Service(SMS) — Customers found new ways to use the service — Emoticons, shortened words and so on.

REFERENCES:: Wikipedia on Poaceae, Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari, Story of first farmers -Documentary by Film Finance Corporation Australia Limited, World history documentary by BBC.

Secular Humanist, Business Growth Consultant, Design Thinker, India. Reach me at mmshah8@gmail.com. or https://www.shahmohammed.com

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