Every tool should nourish the things upon which it depends.
We see this principle at varying levels in some of our tools today. I call them cyclical tools. The iPhone empowers the developer ecosystem that helps drive its adoption. A bike strengthens the person who pedals it. Open-source software educates its potential contributors. A hallmark of cyclical tools is that they create open loops: the bike strengthens its rider to do things other than just pedal the bike.
Cyclical tools are like trees, whose falling leaves fertilize the soil in which they grow.
This essay Missions and Metrics is a great read. It has some really great insights about metrics and their impact on development (of various kinds).
This is slightly different from the notion of “improving improvement” which Doug Engelbart talks about.
So how do we build cyclical tools? We already have two great examples to start with – the bike and open source.
Found this via @swombat – a great resource for entrepreneurs.