What Bugs You?

ONE OF THE simplest techniques for better brainstorming is called “bug listing”. In a nutshell, you start by listing the things that bother you. In a 2nd phase you search for better alternatives. Bug listing works because it and allows for a cathartic release of dissent which can be considered “negative” in some workplaces. However, much product and service innovation comes from the systematic improvement of problems. James Dyson got frustrated that his Hoover “did not suck” etc. That was not a bad few minutes of grumbling … having made his fortune from it … Aldi has just stolen a march on Tesco et al by improving the check out speed simply by studying customer behaviour and designing a system that minimises dead time. It is a true wonder to see customers allowing others to jump the queue at Aldi, since the system is so efficient that queuing no longer has any meaning.

Getting fed up with your hoover could lead to major breakthroughs …

To get you started, here’s some of my favourite bug bears, just crying out for someone to cash in by making the product or service better:

  1. Packaging that is so “safe” that you run the risk of killing yourself trying to open it with sharp knives. Especially children’s toys, which require about 30 minutes with a machete to get the item out. Toothpaste tubes that are so “tamper proof” that older people cannot open them is another good example of the world of unintended consequences.
  2. Ludicrous levels of password security for casual online applications where no money or other important information is to be stored.
  3. Tetrapak ring pull systems that “spray orange juice” at you whilst trying to open them, giving rise to the well-known condition of “orangophobia” – also applies to cranberry juice, milk etc.
  4. Pointless bureaucracy in local Government services that places further distance between the customer and the service, costing people time and energy.
  5. My Toyota Prius Sat Nav, which is significantly worse than the last version and which will cause me to switch back to BMW next time due to Akio Toyoda’s denial that a problem exists.
  6. Flat pack furniture assembly instructions that bear no relation to the item you intend to assemble.
  7. HM Revenue and Customs – pretty much everything they do, for example sending me duplicate letters telling me I need not do anything and ludicrously inefficient border control services that make us look like the laughing stock of Europe.
  8. Shower heads that spray in random directions.
  9. Insurance policies that are written in a ‘foreign language’, so as to hide the truth.
  10. Phone calls from people who insist that I had PPI insurance when I didn’t. Or calls telling me I owned a Toyota Nimbus 2000 washing machine when there is no such thing. (My fault in this case, as someone phoned to ask me the make of my washing machine and I had been watching Harry Potter at the time – now it is on every database in the world!!)

Add Your Comments (Help build our “Bug List”) Below!


Peter Cook
Peter Cook
PETER leads Human Dynamics, offering Business and Organisation Development. He also delivers keynotes around the world that blend business intelligence with parallel lessons from music via The Academy of Rock. Author of and contributor to twelve books on business leadership, acclaimed by Tom Peters, Professors Charles Handy, Adrian Furnham, and Harvey Goldsmith CBE. His blends his three passions are science, business, and music into unique inspiring keynotes based on the art of storytelling. His early life involved leading innovation teams for 18 years to develop life-saving drugs including the first treatments for HIV/AIDS, Herpes and the development of Human Insulin. 18 years in academia teaching MBAs and 18 + years running his businesses. All his life since the age of four playing music. Peter won a prize for his work from Sir Richard Branson after his mother claimed he was a Virgin birth. He now writes for

DO YOU HAVE THE "WRITE" STUFF? If you’re ready to share your wisdom of experience, we’re ready to share it with our massive global audience – by giving you the opportunity to become a published Contributor on our award-winning Site with (your own byline). And who knows? – it may be your first step in discovering your “hidden Hemmingway”. LEARN MORE HERE


    • Nice to see you here Debbie – indeed, it’s the turnaround that matters and not just moaning for its own sake ! 🙂

  1. Warren Pielak MBA

    Warren Pielak MBA In no particular order: people buying lottery tickets with change when I am purchasing fuel; barking dogs, noisy neighbours, noisy cars/trucks, shopping, crowds, cell phones, loud stereos, noisy kids, commercials, government forms, sit coms, The View, mosquitos, 90 degree weather, most Federal Government workers, snotty teenagers, people who talk about business and have never ran one, recreational pot smokers, loud motorhome generators, people who park on the street instead of using their garage or driveway, windows updates, j-walkers, rap music, liberal media, cheap meat, corn fed beef, tofu, water saving devices, room service that closes at 9pm, ethanol, gas stations with no coffee, big city traffic, cab drivers, houses with no yards, Wal-Mart, target, or any ‘superstore’, cops giving seat belt tickets, bingo, Howard Stern, internet advertising, Starbucks, Facebook, Twitter, lawyers,………………………

    • You’ve certainly covered all bases here Warren – and then there’s your “What I Like” List?

    • Plenty of fodder for continuous product / service improvement here – you could be a serial entrepreneur Warren ! 😉

  2. My background is in system & usability testing. It was my job to think up ways to reveal bugs in programmer’s efforts to create new functionality. It was one way to assure quality in the end product.

    I love that answer for the washer. LOL I have had similar calls. I now inform the caller that I’m recording the call – and they hang up at lightening speed.

    Pet Peeves – I tend to be very patient and tolerant. But these are two things that baffle me every time.

    1. When someone asks me to do something for them, says its urgent, and I respond as quickly as I’m able. Then I set the time aside but don’t hear back from them for so long I’m in the dark about what I should do.
    2. Lack of follow through. This is in general. Instead of appropriate follow-thru to close the loop on an open question, assumptions are made about resolution. It might be obvious to the person who has the ball in their court, but it’s not obvious to those who have passed it there.

  3. People that you are chatting with on the phone who seem to be the only ones speaking,
    People who do not listen as you speak whether in person or other wise
    Although a lot of things use to bug me, the list has dwindled
    Great article!

    • Lynn, I agree that I have a pretty high tolerance for letting things get to me – but I also agree with you about the listening. It is painful to have someone stand in front of me, as though, ready to have a conversation then notice their eyes are every place else in the room except paying attention to me.

  4. List from the Editorial Team:
    1. Drivers who pull out onto the highway and immediately slow down.
    2. People chatting away on their phone as they are checking out in the Store
    3. Folks who response without listening
    4. The absence of anything once resembling professional courtesy

    • Not getting a live person to talk to when making an appointment and being given at least 5 options to hit before finally being told “press 0 for the operator.”

    • Along these lines, may we add the notion of dialing a local business in the USA from the USA and being asked (via the first recorded Option) to PRESS 1 for English. Shouldn’t the presumptive language be English?

    • Sometimes we have “circular” options, ending up where you started. We’re on a road to nowhere !! 🙂

    • Jumping in here . . . Even worse is taking all the right options, finally being placed in the hold queue, only to be disconnected after already waiting until cobwebs have sprung from the receiver.

    • That is a very sad story. Don’t you just wonder how they stay in business? I feel your pain. It took from February 2nd to April 19th, 14 phone calls and 36 hours of my time to get a correct form from my US government so I could file my taxes. I didn’t get it. There is no valid excuse for any organization or institution to fail so audaciously. Your telephone 02 needs to have a competitor with a penchant for service step in and see if they survive. On the other hand nobody competes with the government.