Knowing what you like

Many folks, when asked what they like, proclaim to know. Using movies as an example, many would say “I like action movies” or “I like a good comedy”. I don’t believe this is the most accurate response. Today, I’d like to unpack why I believe this.

The top layer of “like”

This top layer is the above-mentioned “I like action movies” layer. It’s the genre, the overall style of the movie. Very much the surface layer.

The meat and potatoes

Pealing back one more layer, there is the plot, the scenes, and the story. This is the meat which holds the movie together and offers structure. Many folks say “I like a well constructed narrative”. This is fine, yet not the true “like”, for me.

The characters and the message

For me, this is where I choose to focus. I love well constructed characters, lovely interplay between the characters and a strong message or moral at the end.

Focussing on this layer of “like” helps me to enjoy movies across many genres, and to have a clearer idea of what I like, right out of the gate.

How I apply this approach elsewhere

The key takeaway here is that the layers above the deepest layer (ie: the meat, potatoes, and the surface layer) are all taken care of if the base layer is looked after. Applying this in the context of architecting and building products, I know that I can look after the overall purpose of the product, and of the interface (the basic user interactions with the product). Taking care of these two pieces ensures a strong product is released, 10 times out of 10.

Know which pieces of the project or goal are important to you. The rest will take care of itself.

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