The Dimensions that Create and Control
Volume, Content, and Value
To help explain the next point that arises from basic geometry, think of a piece of furniture which is designed to hold things. Something like a cabinet, or a chest of drawers. The picture below is a simple example, supplemented by the most commonly-used names of the dimensions which control how large the unit will be (i.e., height, width, and depth), and how much it will be able to hold:
The "volume" of that cabinet or chest of drawers can be expressed in terms of cubic feet, or cubic inches, or any metric equivalent. That volume is calculated by a simple and basic mathematical operation: multiply the width, the height, and depth, all together. The simple version of the formula is V = W x H x D, where "x" represents the multiplier function, rather than some unknown variable. If a chest of drawers is 4 feet wide, 3 feet tall, and 1.5 feet deep, then it can hold up to 18 cubic feet (reduced by the thickness and volume of the pieces of wood that were used to make the cabinet or chest).
In pondering or analyzing nearly anything that is able to receive, hold, carry, and protect things which have meaning, depth, and value -- and that phrase can apply, not just to furniture, but to things like a life, a career, or an important relationship -- it often can be helpful to pause, and ask yourself, "How would I describe -- and, how would I name? -- the three most important factors, or dimensions, which work together, and contribute to the overall result, to determine how much this ____ [i.e., this life, career, relationship, or whatever] can hold, and carry, and contain, and protect?"
When I think about and try to analyze, describe, and better understand things like lives, careers, and accomplishments, I often end up thinking that the three most important "dimensions" which must combine with each other, to create volume and value, can usually be described in terms such as the following (for clarity and simplicity, this discussion will refer to "he" without trying to also cover and include female pronouns):
1. One of the dimensions is talent. Basic natural, raw, talent. How much did this person have, of whatever special type of gift, knack, or talent, for doing the specific types of chores, and tasks, and planning, that were necessary, in order for this thing to grow, prosper, and succeed? Did he have the type of natural gift and talent, for this type of work, which enabled him to be happy, or at least somewhat content, while he was doing it? Or, when it comes to relationships, did this person have a natural ability to create a truly caring, sharing, affectionate, committed, and lasting partnership, with someone else? Or, was he troubled and tormented by desires, drives, and needs that could never be met, by anyone, for more than just a few weeks, months, or years?
2. A second major dimension can be phrased and formulated as, did he put in the hours, and the effort? How many days did he actually show up, and do the work, versus how many days did he decide not to? Some of the words that apply to this dimension or factor include diligence, persistence, dedication, discipline, and work ethic. Put simply, someone usually will not succeed, unless he actually shows up, day after day, month after month, and just plain does the work that needs to be done. If this factor is faulty, and insufficient, then no matter how big and broad the other two dimensions are, the cabinet will not be able to hold enough to be worthwhile. It would be like a set of drawers that is five feet wide, and four feet tall, but only 3 inches deep. Any drawers that are only 3 inches deep are not going to be able to hold much, unless they were specifically designed and intended for shallow things, like a jewelry display.
3. The third crucial dimension usually centers on whatever factors the worker/owner can NOT control. Words like luck, fate, destiny, "intangibles", and sometimes "timing" tend to apply, here. Like it or not, we are all affected by things we just plain cannot control -- at least, not directly. So, this actually becomes a factor and dimension that deserves, and requires, some of the most careful attention, planning, discussion, and focus. Those who are able to create the best and most successful plans -- which translates into, "the best and most successful actual and profitable working systems and structures" -- are the ones who are either lucky enough, or in some cases shrewd enough, to do the prep work at a well-chosen, well-planned time, so that they will be ready to approach their customers, audience, marketplace, or whatever, at a good time, rather than a bad time.
And, finally, try to understand the next crucial point. If I am trying to enlarge the volume of a box, and I have an ability to make it bigger, somehow, then the most useful and efficient way to do THAT, is by focusing on whatever dimension (or factor) is currently the SMALLEST, and the most constricting, and limiting.
Example -- suppose I have a box that is five feet tall (60"), and four feet wide (48"), but only 10 inches deep. If I can add even just a single inch, to its depth, then I will increase its volume, by 10%. By contrast, if I increase its height by an inch, that only increases it from 60" to 61" -- which is an increase of only 1.67%, rather than 10%. If I increase its width by an inch -- from 48" to 49" -- that is an increase of only 2.08%, rather than 10%. So, the goal should be to focus on improving whatever is currently the most limiting factor, rather than putting even more time, effort, energy, and money, into some other factor, element, or dimension, which is not really a limiting factor.
So . . . a set of advice that I try to offer to inventors, is this:
1. Try to figure out what the three most important factors are, in this invention and project that you are working on. And, think of them in terms similar to dimensions, such as height, width, and depth. As example phrases, think in terms of:
(A) the quality of the invention itself, and how much of an improvement it offers, over previously-available products or services;
(B) the likelihood that you will be able to find the levels of funding, expertise, laboratory space, and whatever other elements you will need, to push your invention through at least the first one or two steps of development, such as (i) the first proof-of-concept steps, followed by (ii) some type of prototype design that can show whether your synthesis, assembly, or manufacturing process can be reliably scaled up into commercial numbers, weights, volumes, or other quantities;
(C) the need to assemble a business team, with other people who will have skills that can help fill in those areas where you are either not as strong, or not as interested;
(D) the balances you will need to achieve, and the compromises you will need to accept, between: (i) artistry, creativity, beauty, elegance, cleverness, and such; versus, (ii) the need to budget carefully, handle money wisely, and cope with the grinding and unhappy realities of mistakes and shortcomings.
2. "Using those phrases as examples of starting points, take a week or two, and try to figure out how you would describe the three most important factors, or dimensions, or elements, that will lead to either success, or non-success, in this invention you want to work on? How would you explain those factors to a potential investor, in some way that will reassure that potential investor that you really have thought this thing all the way through?"
3. "Then, at some point in the future, begin to focus on what you are doing -- and whatever else you might be able to do, if you tried, or if you got some additional help -- to try to expand and enlarge a single selected and targeted factor, which poses the tightest constraints, limits, and restrictions, on what you're trying to build or accomplish."
If an inventor can grasp and understand the analogies and parallels between things like:
(i) geometry, volume, dimensions, and contributing factors, in reality; and,
(ii) what they hope to accomplish, with their invention,
then they can use those parallels, and analogies, to help them think and talk about what they are doing, in ways that can often help them reach their goals. Once someone focuses, for even just a few minutes, on how the volume -- and value -- of a cabinet will depend on not just one but three different factors, or dimensions, they can more easily understand the need to identify, not just the single most important factor, but the three most important factors, which will end up leading to either success, or failure, in whatever they are trying to create or accomplish.