What if communal ownership could help people grow? What if you give children speed in utero? What if accountants had their own dating app? What if children could be professional abducted to learn their lesson?
In this episode of Steal Scott’s Ideas, Jacob, Eli and Dirk gather in Brooklyn for some execution in public.
**Sponsored by Casual Evil Music Festival
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Execution Lesson 201: Achieve failure by efficiently building the wrong thing.
To be an artist is to take our precious time and create something that nobody needs, wants or even likes. In many cases, to spend real stretches of time on projects that are fundamentally irrational and might not work. And yet, we do this because we love the process. We love showing up and metabolizing our feelings into tangible works that bring our humanity to the surface that, if we’re fortunate enough, make a connection with, or make a change to, another person.
This process is romantic and rebellious and deeply rewarding. Every project another frisbee thrown out the window, and that’s totally fine with us. We trust the process. The tricky part is, what happens when it’s no longer just the lone artist? What if we start working with a team who has time constraints, tight budgets, group dynamics, office politics and hierarchical structures? Can the idealistic, process oriented artist still take initiative and execute meaningful work on an organizational scale?
Absolutely. That person simply needs stronger filters. Empathetic spot checks to bring their artistic heart out of the cold and into the world of other people. Because while everything real in business comes from initiating something new, we also don’t want to start something amazing that nobody wants or needs or even uses.
Reis, the great pioneer of the lean startup movement, puts it perfectly. It’s easy to achieve failure by efficiently building the wrong thing. Doing something efficiently that nobody wants done is another form of waste. And an even worse outcome than shipping a bad product is building something that nobody wants.
Reminds me of almost every job I’ve held. All that frustration of spending my precious time on yet another initiative with minimal or no impact. Kind of makes me never want to start something new ever again. Which brings us to the stronger filter.
Here are some questions I’ve started asking myself during the initiation process.
Have you stopped to ask yourself if this thing is useful? Is anyone else actually excited about this besides you? Does your new project solve real, expensive, urgent and pervasive problems for people?
If so, onward. If not, pivot. And if we can’t pivot, scrap it. The last thing we need to is a failure by efficiently building the wrong thing.
After you take the risk that you might make someone upset with your initiative, how will you keep your artistic spirit accountable to the group?