Build It, Try It, Fix It
Here is another “innovation tip.” This one is simple, yet incredibly powerful. In fact, I am using this concept right now with this website. But more on that later.
One of the biggest barriers to success is analysis paralysis. It is the belief that studying the marketplace infinitum will yield better results. This is just not true. We can never predict what will happen in the “real” world, no matter how much Customer Relationship Management (CRM) data we have, how many focus groups we conduct, or how many strategy consulting firms we hire.
Rather than using the “analyze, design, build, test, deploy” model, use the “build it, try it, fix it” model – build something, try it out for a while, and learn from your “experiences.” Although some may call these experiences “failures,” I think of them as valuable information about the real world.
The process is simple. Develop a small experiment where the risk associated with failure is limited or controllable (build it). Learn from the results (try it). Adjust the experiment (fix it). Continue to iterate with larger experiments, increasing the scale. Stop pursuing an idea when the experiment suggests a lack of viability or desirability
Example: A clothing manufacturer wanted to venture into retail stores. Rather than developing detailed plans based on years of analysis, they rented empty space in a local mall and set up a trial shop in a matter of weeks. The store was set up with video cameras and other equipment to help analyze the results. Although the store concept “failed,” they learned more during two months of running the experiment than they would have spending a year analyzing the marketplace. They quickly reworked the store and tested out version 2. This continued—with frequent iterations. Over time they increased the size of the experiments until the stores were rolled out on a national level.
How am I using the “build it, try it, fix it” concept with this website? Some of you may have noticed that the tag line has changed a few times over the past several months. This blog was originally titled “Goal-Free Living.” Unfortunately, I found that it limited my ability to incorporate my corporate innovation & creativity work. I also discovered that the “goal-free” name turned off many goal-obsessed organizations.
Next I tried “The Science of High Performance.” The word “science” confused some people. And “high performance” was not quite right. Besides, it was too close to Accenture’s tag line – “High Performance. Delivered.”
My latest tag line is: “Unconventional Thinking for Explosive Business Growth.” This too is an experiment. Although I like this tag line, I am not attached to it. What I like about it is that it focuses on what I enjoy most: getting people to think differently. I renamed my speeches too:
- Unconventional Thinking about Innovation (this is my 24/7 Innovation content)
- Unconventional Thinking about Creativity (this is my SpeedInnovating content)
- Unconventional Thinking about Goals & Performance (this is my Goal-Free Living content)
- Unconventional Thinking about Thinking (this is the content of my TV show)
What do you think? I welcome your comments on my “Unconventional Thinking” brand. I also am interested in examples of where you applied the “build it, try it, fix it” approach and had positive (or negative) results.