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Adaptive Products: Designing for Evolution rough Use - page 22 / 31

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mess around with it and progressively change it to bring it into an adapted state.”37 One can recognize when this is successful because each product begins to take on a “unique character” as it diverges from the others based on individual changes.

Adaptation moves products from conventional to personal because people make changes that are important and personally beneficial to them. These might be prompted because the product is no longer meeting their needs, is mediating their actions in a negative manner, or they want to avoid an undesirable consequence. Regardless, they are making changes based on a particular and unique context. But there are also people for whom the product never met their needs in the first place, who are using it as a starting point towards creating a unique vision. The layers of change approach is a way to plan for and allow adaptation through flexibility, but based on what people hope to achieve the way they adapt products can be signi icantly different.

When looking at methods of adaptation the two poles of the continuum are “satisficing,” a word from decision theory combining “satisfy” and “suf ice,” and optimization. Satisficing is the most common method and the one that prevails in natural evolution. These “solutions are inelegant, incomplete, impermanent, inexpensive, just barely good enough to work.”38 They are never optimal, even after successive iterations, but they are convenient, simple, and easy to adjust later. “Satisficing doesn’t try to solve problems. It reduces them just enough.”39 Conversely, Von Hippel has studied what he calls “lead users,” who adapt products to achieve optimal results. He defines a lead user as someone who is “at the leading edge of an

37

Ibid., 21.

38

Ibid., 165.

39

Ibid.

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