Discovery, Development, Dependence
You find something new. You get used to it. You can’t do without it.
I am a musician. One thing that makes music composition beautiful is creating “new” progressions, chords and improvisations. Recently, I had a little experience of what I’ve now called Discovery, Development, Dependence. After a little thought, it’s obvious that this is how most habits are formed — first you chance on something that works for you, you evolve it to suit your circumstances, and soon it becomes part of what you do to cope with that situation.
I’ll try to explain what these titles mean, showing some examples in making music and using software.
With a sequence of 12 notes that get higher in pitch from left to right, discovery of new chord patterns is mostly infinite. Depending on any melody, a chord might sound entirely different.
In this particular case, I was rehearsing an existing song for church. While going through the melody, I tried to find new ways of playing the related chords.
Within that time, I realised I was deliberately building a new vocabulary. I took time to retry the various options that would fit the melody in that particular phrase, breaking them down to hear them individually so I could get used to the sound of them.
In the moment where you’ve come across a new tool that solves a problem for you, you want to be sure that it really fits the purpose. If it’s software, you’re likely going to check out the features it has, reviews about it, etc. then you can be sure it fits your purpose. This is discovery.
If it’s food, you’re looking out for calories, possible allergic ingredients, etc. The excitement about this "new" thing is building up.
At this point, you are almost at the cusp of Development.
After you have accepted that the new process works, you begin to give it more room to fit other things you’d like it to do. You might even compare to a previous process, food or product that works for you.
In the case of music production, you’re likely to try that chord on the melody in another key, to see if it fits. If it doesn’t for this new case, you’re likely to go back in to discovery, just for this new case.
At this point of development, you’re really expanding the use cases that the discovery might fit in. If it’s a new physical activity you learnt, for example, you’ll be looking to add more variations. It’s almost as if you’re try to do a mini-discovery — because not everything you throw at it might stick.
Through this process of development, you’re able to know what you can reliably build on this discovery with.
This is the almost final stage of this process. Almost final because this stage can actually be toppled by another discovery phase, relating to the same issue.
In Dependence, the habit has been formed; you’re now used to this method of doing things, and handling this situation. If it’s music, you now know how this chord/progression sounds and can easily fit it into spaces where you know it’ll work.
If it’s software, you are already a paying customer who is actively telling people about how this new product helps to deal with your situation. And if the service suffers downtime or service disruption, you’re going to be affected.
If this is a bad habit, you’ll need some breaking away, with a new discovery of a non-toxic solution that has a more positive effect on you.
While writing this, I realised that my growth with Notion has been a similar process. I signed up for it as early as 2013, when it first came out.
Then I abandoned it. 2019-2020 began the discovery phase for me. They also made it easier with their easy import tool from Evernote; I had loads of notes from Evernote. I was beginning to warm up to Notion. For 2021 and 2022, my now-previous employer was using it as the main document store and project management app — I used it every single day!
As part of the development process, I realised that the import process was broken, even for Notion documents. But guess what! I was already loving it.
As at now, most of my writing is on there, even the structure of my website and all the other side products I work on start in Notion. At this point, I’m dependent on it, and it’d be quite catastrophic for me it Notion fails abruptly.
So that’s it for Discovery, Development, Dependence. I’m sure there are similar models covering a classical learning process. I'll be glad to update it with those leanings as I get to know them. Go Discover something!
While reading this article from Kent Beck about his assessment of AI tools compraing to his skills, I came across a 3-point model he uses to describe the process of product development, with roots similar to that explained in my post. His is called Explore-Expand-Extract aka 3X. As I'd already mentioned, I suspected there would be several of such ideas around.