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Fire

October 5, 2007

Thinking about doing something and doing it are two very different animals. I have about ten good ideas per day and if I’m not careful I become so enamored with one of them that I quickly obssess about it to the point where I am doing nothing else. I am also a natural motivator (this is more or less what I do with clients) so I am able to get other people excited about the idea too. And at the end of the day I am no more advanced than at the beginning of the day because I haven’t done anything concrete. Tom Peter’s – Ready, Fire, Aim are three words which have helped me more than any others in this domain. Check out htis little tidbit:

“Ideas. Plans. Actions.” Planning was the rage, as it mostly still is—and it was-is McKinsey’s bread & butter. My article claimed that “planning” was highly overrated. The best performers, I said, seesawed back and forth between “ideas” and “actions.” That is, they had a “big idea.” (Or a small one, for that matter.) Rather than think it to death, they immediately got the hell into the field and experimented with some element of it (a prototype). They watched what happened, adjusted, and then quickly ran another experiment—in the meantime the “big idea” also was trimmed or expanded to fit the incoming “real” data, the results of those experiments. As far as I’m concerned this approach, rather than a “planning-centric” approach, is the best (bold assertion) route to success. By the by, another definition of “my” approach is the Newtonian “scientific method,” wholly dependent on ideas shaped and reshaped by actions—my studies of Nobel laureates in the sciences, for example, suggests (and not oversimplifying by much) that the winners “do more experiments faster.” (Among other things, this was what my summer neighbor for a few years and winner of a Nobel for the first successful organ transplant told me of his situation, giving me heightened confidence in my beliefs.)

-Tom Peters

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. October 5, 2007 8:04 am

    If you have every read about Honey and Mumford’s learning styles,
    http://www.ruby3.dircon.co.uk/Training%20Files/Theory%20Pages/learning%20styles.htm or the Kolb cycle of experiential learning, you will see there seems to be a lot of people who are plan, do, mentality and don’t take time to think, either reflectively or abstractly.

    I find myself in Honey and Mumfords terms, an Activist, Theroist, I love ideas and concepts but need to try them straight away – learn from doing and relating it to a big idea. This seems, at least for me to free me from the tyranny of failure – it’s never failure just more exploration of whats possible.

    Maybe we should help others find a way to feel comfortable with idea surfing, testing what works and ejecting what doesn’t without the guilt of a cost/benefit/spreadsheet/ dependencies chart/ backside covering paper trail.

  2. October 5, 2007 8:57 am

    Guilt is an interesting way to put it. People are working the way they think they should be working even if deep down they know it’s not the most creative way to advance. The idea of failure I try to transmit is failure to propose and try. If after this point ideas and projects don’t get off the ground this is no longer failure but research.

  3. October 5, 2007 1:14 pm

    Ready, Fire, Aim? Most people aim to low, fire too soon then brace themselves for the consequences! So for them it’s Aim, Fire, Ready!

  4. October 6, 2007 5:18 am

    A lot of people don’t even aim.

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