We’re getting SKUed !


The reason I’m so excited about our latest product SuperTasker is not just because it’s a cool product (and looks pretty according to my unbiased opinion of course !;) that solves a real need in a novel way. More importantly its driving a new macro trend which is way overdue : the introduction of SKUs for services.


SKUs (Supplier Keeping Units) are now second nature in the world of physical products.  They are the classification of all things made and sold. The worlds all encompassing ‘product catalogue’. Each SKU is tied in with specific product specs. So buying the same SKU anywhere in the world, through any site or retail store means the same thing pops out of the box. In other words: standardisation.


We take this for granted now but SKUs have marked a fundamental shift from a nation of blacksmiths to mass production and standardisation. Before the industrial revolution buying a table, or a bottle of ketchup meant going to a craftsman, blacksmith or the local farmers market. What you got that day would differ to what you’d get the next.  In a nice ironic turn of events that serendipitous discovery in the purchasing process is now finding its way back spurring new hot businesses like Birchbox and Plated amongst many others. Too much standardisation can get boring. But we wouldn’t have come this far if we weren’t able to standardise production to feed a nation en masse.  No doubt our standard of living has massively improved since then. You can buy mass produced items for a fraction of what a craftsman could afford to charge you however hard you bartered.  In economic terms:  we reaped ‘economies of scale’.


Yet in intangibles we are STILL a nation of blacksmiths. Try getting a simple logo done on 5 different platforms. The cost will vary drastically as will the quality, and other service elements bundled in the purchase such as number of revisions or the ‘return’ policy.  It’s a hit and miss experience, much like buying goods was before mass production.


Some argue that one of the reasons is that you can’t commoditise creative work.  Well. I’m sure that’s exactly what the blacksmith or craftsman in the case above would have said before Henry Ford put them out of business.  There is creativity in virtually EVERY production process. Whether you’re making a table, a pair of shoe laces, a home made ketchup recipe or a logo. There is no reason for them to differ.


That’s what we are fundamentally doing at SuperTasker. We are the world’s first catalogue of SKUs in digital services. And we aim to eventually expand to more. But for now we ‘stick to the knitting’ as they say. A design edit, a WordPress fix, an Infographic or creative banner production, to name just a few, are all SKUed. In other words we define what the cost should be, the delivery time, the penalty on lateness, the quality standard (all the ‘producers’ are curated and trained to that standard), and those other service elements like number of revisions per purchase and refund policy. We leave no guesswork to the ‘craftsman’ or the customer. It’s SKUed.

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Pour over coffee: it doesn’t just taste good, it actually teaches us a lot about design!


Stumbled on this article this morning called an Ode to pour over coffee which totally resonates with me. I am a recent convert to pour over coffee which – as a coffee fanatic – I have to say tastes not just marginally better but a lot better than even French press (which aside of pour over makes the best coffee if you have good beans as the coffee lingers in the water giving it a richer flavor)

In tech or design talk we call this a ‘step change’ in the coffee experience J . It’s not just optimization or marginal improvement. It’s  a leap forward. Moreover – as in any design process – step improvement often comes from thinking about the problem in a different way altogether and simplifying the solution.

Think of this:  companies like illy, Nestle, Lavazza and so many others are investing more and more in sophisticated technology to create the perfect  water pressure to extract the right amount of flavor from a coffee, pour over coffee does better using gravity, and just the right cone shape with which the right amount of coffee (26 grams to be precise)  ground to the right grain size. That creates just enough friction for the water to trickle down at exactly the right pace.  A little too fast and the coffee is watery and tasteless. A little too slow and its too dense and bitter.continue reading »

Dieter Ram’s 10 principles of good design (and the one missing)

The master Dieter Rams creator of Braun laid it  all out back in the 80’s in his 10 principles of  good design.  Even though  this was in the context of physical products I believe it applies as much to the design of software applications and design of experiences and services we consumer in our daily life. continue reading »

What did Steve Jobs say when he was given an inhaler mask?

“This is badly designed!” .

I read this the other day and  thought its hilarious. Apparently they had to bring 5 different variations of an inhaler so he can pick because he was annoyed at the ‘badly designed’ default one.

The man was relentless. Love it.


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