Waiting for Perfection
Waiting to pick the guitar up until you have the whole song written in your head...Waiting to write that blog post until you have it just right... Waiting to start that new business initiative completely planned out...
I admire people who have the ability to effectively plan long-term. I feel that it's an essential aspect of not only business but of life, in general. Knowing where you're going helps you to be more purposeful in what you create and what you do.
At some point, the plan still needs implementing. All of the brainstorming maps and outlines and whiteboards full of information have to coalesce into real action.
This post is one of those thoughts that I am telling myself as much as anyone else who might be reading. It's not about getting your idea perfect before you start something. It's about getting started.
Yes, the plan gives it a framework, and it gives your ideas a place to go, but the effect is in the doing.
Winging It Vs. Iterating
Iteration is becoming my favorite method of work. I'm sure that not everything fits in this mode, and I'm not going to argue that everything should. Still, iteration is a good balance between giving yourself the freedom to just do what needs done and to plan for long-term success.
The basic idea is that you break down your big plan into little chunks so that you can get started sooner rather than later. This means, of course, that the first version of your idea that comes out is not going to be the polished version that you hope for much later in the process.
But, again, the focus is on doing.
In software, it means creating that rough version of you new app just to get something out there so that you can see how people will use it. With business, it can mean throwing out a new sales offer during a meeting to see if people are remotely interested. You can always tweak the offer before the next meeting, and you can certainly refine your sales collateral that will accompany your pitch. But, at least you can get some real-time feedback to know whether you should continue developing your idea.
Knowing When to Keep at It
Here's the tricky part, and I think that this piece of the equation is something that only you can figure out for yourself. How do you handle the news when you throw out an idea that you're sure is a winner, and no one seems to care?
Led Zeppelin tells the story that when they first played the song Stairway to Heaven, the audience was bored by it. The crowd just wanted the band to get back to the music that was already on the radio.
Iteration doesn't mean throwing out anything that receives less than a standing ovation the first time. Sometimes, we try releasing ideas too early in the process. Our desire to do outweighs the desire to see what we actually have created.
The process of recognizing the difference between an idea that isn't going anywhere and an idea that just needs more work is how you truly master the iteration process.
I certainly haven't figured it all out, but I know that a big piece of doing it right involves getting trusted advisors on board who know you well and who aren't afraid of being honest with you.
How About You?
Have you had an idea that didn't take off at first only to flourish after some additional work?