I love the idea of product service systems. (Upon reflection, that may be the geekiest single sentence I’ve ever written.) Sadly, I never get around to writing about them. Alex, however, does. This bit is particularly relevant to the question I asked the other day:

Our systems do a bad job of delivering the things we really want. For most of us in the developed world, the essentials of life are not in doubt, and what we most want is experiences and relationships that give our lives meaning, make them enjoyable, and give us the ability to better prosper.

Too often, we’ve been sold products we don’t actually really need — or at very least, rarely need — on the presumption that these products will bring us closer to the experiences and relationships we crave. Toolmakers, for instance, advertise power drills as tools for providing for our loved ones’ comfort, and thus showing our love for them, winning their approval or having the glow of a job well done (think: any of a number of ads showing a manly guy doing work around the house to the great satisfaction of his beaming wife). But the reality is that most power tools are used for only minutes a year. And, when it comes right down to it, what most of us really want is not the tool itself but the thing we get by using the tool. As my brother puts it, "You want the hole, not the drill."

So, in reality, while being handy around the house may well be something we want, the drill is just a means to the larger end. If we had easy access to a drill owned by someone else, we’d be just as happy. The planet would certainly be better off, as it takes a lot of metal and oil and pollution to make all those drills we’re not using, and store them, and schlepp them from home to home as we move and ultimately to dispose of them in some landfill.

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But many of us guys have been taught (largely by advertising) that to be a man is to own tools, so there’s something a bit sissifying about belonging to a tool library.

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