Masters build their own tools

by Konstantin Weiss on October 15, 2018

Before he dedicated his life to interior architecture and to product design, my #father initially was trained in #carpentry, among other professions. Now, after he retired, he encounters again the joy of working with wood, especially carving. And makes his own tools.

Last weekend I've spent some time with him in his carpenter workshop. When dealing with special cases, he created an extensive repository of special tools, hand-made and partially invented by him. I've counted dozens of self-made knives, firmer chisels, flat irons, and carver's mallets.

Some tools were made for solving a special task, which was impossible with a standard tool, like digging out wood in a curved hole. Other times, he built e.g. knives which would fit his heel of hand precisely, allowing him to apply pressure in a precise way.

Observing him, I've come to realise, a master builds one's own #tool set.

I would even claim that without own tools, there is no real mastery, since tools are an expression of one's thinking and attitude towards solving problems.

Like #pixar, who built their own #software and graphics #hardware in order to be able to do the first real feature-length animation movie. Like us at #iainc, using my #containerist prototype framework in oder to test and experiment with #ia concepts. Like #moritzz using his #kirby skills to build a #content prototype framework, where we tested out content strategies. Like #severinzaugg building his own #uilib elements system, with automatic #git integration to result in production #code automatically. Like #azumbrunnen building his own for #cui (conversational UI) in order to experiment with the nature of design for conversations. And #reichenstein even evolved his own #writing tool #iawriter into a full fletched product which is now used all around the world.

In mathematical terms, a tool may allow for an infinite solution set, but it defines your domain. As long as you don't build your own tool, you are bound to the domain of others.

Masters build their own tools. And if you hire one, expect her/him to use them, and build new ones. If you allow for the changes that come to your ways of working, I'm sure, you will greatly benefit.