I recently had the pleasure of joining 500 other business leaders at a presentation by Tom Chi. Mr. Chi is among the software geniuses who built Microsoft Outlook, Yahoo Answers, and Google Glass. His concept of getting things done is through what he calls “prototype thinking.” It is different than what I’m used to – and what most of corporate America doesn’t use. He is trying to change this.
From his presentation I took five takeaways.
For much of my career, ideas for improving services and products involved meeting after meeting, long conversations rehashing things and trying to make the “perfect” solution/decision. On paper. Direct experiences are always better than the best-educated guesses.
There is a finite value in preparation and planning; and research is important. The greater learning occurs by compiling this activity into action much sooner. Then, make a prototype and do it! Actually live a possible solution. It doesn’t have to be the right solution – and likely it won’t be at just one attempt – trying something and learning is the point. Create a prototype and test it.
Evaluators – potential customers or clients who try the prototype – must be other people than those who make the possible solution. One attempt, or even a handful, that don’t work is the objective. The attitude is to make it “fail” soon so it can be improved faster while also looking at where the positive energy is. What percentage of the test worked? Testing the solution between five and 100 times will get the answers.
To maximize the rate of learning, dramatically minimize the time to try things. Building, testing, rebuilding, testing, etc. can’t take weeks and months. It should be days at the most; better yet – hours and minutes of the same day to practice/try ideas and working prototypes.
“Doing” solves problems faster. Experiment!