Hello. My name is Gary Straughan. I like making things.

Hello. My name is Gary Straughan.

I like to make things

I spend a lot of my time making things.

During the week, you'll find me working as a software developer.

At weekends, you'll find me in my workshop making something out of wood.

I like to make things.

But there's more to it than that...

... I like to make useful things

This is an important distinction.

I'm not interested in creating art.

I'm interested in providing utility.

The things I make have to be useful.

The things I make have to be used.

A pattern emerges

My first job was in Research and Development.

I spent my days in a lab. Experimenting.

I wasn't very good at it. I didn't invent a damn thing.

Zero utility.

My second job was Product Manager.

I designed brackets.

The brackets were made by an external supplier and shipped to our warehouse.

And then came the really magical part:

The brackets were shipped to paying customers.


My third job was Marketing Manager.

I didn't design brackets any more.

(Which was a shame. I liked those brackets.)

But now I could make sure that more of those brackets - among other things - left the warehouse on their way to paying customers.

More utility!

History repeats

In 1999 I left the world of Industrial Marketing. I moved to IT.

I became a Business Analyst.

I wrote a lot of specifications.

Too few of them turned into code.

Low utility.

I stopped writing specs and started writing code.

At first, I wrote code for tiny websites.

Later, I wrote code for enormous websites, such as BBC.com.


Over time I began to see that good code wasn't enough.

I started to see that profitable software requires a delicate mix of factors.

Get the balance right, and the result is great software. Profitable software.

More utility!