Innovate fast. Make mistakes. Course correct. Don’t rush.

Airplane, aircraft, propeller, OODA loop


There are lots of different ways to describe the ‘fail fast, fail cheap’ message. But they all come down to the same thing. Innovate fast. Make mistakes. Course correct. Don’t rush.

Of LinkedIn and Greylock fame, Reid Hoffman is known to say, ‘if you aren’t embarrassed by your MVP, you’ve waited too long.’ In other words, move fast, get it mostly right and make it better as you go.

Mark Zuckerberg puts it similarly: ‘move fast and break stuff.’ If there’s a company that tries stuff quicker than anyone else you know, it’s Facebook.

Jeff Bezos has said, ‘I’ve made billions of dollars of mistakes at Amazon,’ but you won’t find anyone who doesn’t think the investment will have paid back in successes from lessons learnt.

These are huge companies that find a way of making mistakes that still turn a buck, while they improve their product. It’s no surprise if your company isn’t as flexible.

The US Air Force has a version of the Design Thinking mantra, the OODA loop: Observe, Orient, Decide and Act. It sounds simple and, in theory, it is. The problems start when the structure you work within gets in the way. By introducing a stage gate into OODA, you slow it down, and that’s not something a pilot needs at any time. Help with decision-making on the fly and seeing the consequences of your actions is useful, but a manager sitting in judgement isn’t.

Project teams are a way around organisational and personal bias, and we love working with them. Teams who are motivated, challenged, empowered and democratic are brilliant – and as rare as hens’ teeth.

You can fail fast and cheap, you can OODA-loop your way to profit, or you can do what you’ve always done. The trouble with the latter, though, is whether it can make 2019 any better than 2018? It’s a serious question.

Almost everything about your market will see a change next year. Some of that will cause you to change the way you work. There’s a way of anticipating what that change might be and how you plan to benefit from it. It’s called innovation strategy and it’s what we do.

Drop us a line and let’s see where a conversation takes us.