Simple tools better be built better

Posted on June, 18 2020

There is more value with complexity than with simplicity, which means the simple things we have taken into our daily lives aren't always built to the same standards as their complex counterparts. When a simple tool or component that is built to a higher standard is used to build complex tools or components, the quality of that initial tool shows through in the final product.

This simple calculator is built better than most cars...

The power switch creates a satisfactory thock. Each button assuredly follows a consistent force curve until it reaches a confident stop. The LCD panel is seated precisely. The housing is held together with a single machine screw, so that the batteries are replaced with ease. Not to mention that the PCB construction is equally as robust as the metal housing that the unit is kept together with.

Taken out of context, what I described may be far more advanced than a simple calculator. Even when working with bland things there are opportunities for creating the extraordinary.

Through the utility of the internet we have access to the latest and greatest at every moment, pulling our thoughts to every corner of our imaginations. Awesome examples of people creating these incredibly exciting and awe-inspiring things. Despite these stories being exciting, the basic and fundamental building blocks that make those creations possible aren't always viewed in the same light or built with the same level of passion.

If what you are providing is basic, it can be the difference between two worlds in certain cases.

Imagine if one day you ordered a new piece of furniture from <insert major furniture brand here> and you had to assemble the components to get the final product. Instead of using the provided good-enough hex key to put the components together, you used a hex key with an ergonomic handle. The action of torquing down fasteners is now a comfortable and swift task, where more time is spent reviewing the build instructions. If you were to fumble with the provided hex tool, you wouldn't spend as much time considering how each piece went together. If you were to make an error, you would be less likely to correct that error because the tool sucks. The construction of the simple hex key tool may influence a difference in quality for something inherently more complex than the hex tool itself.

The build quality of this simple calculator is an example of my thoughts on this loosely defined philosophy. Whatever it is that you may be doing, there exists opportunities for passing forth quality. Deliberately discern what you know of as quality, and follow suit by realizing a set of standards that you build to. That's what a team of people had to do at one point to produce this small piece of hand-held technology in 1980's.