Browsed by
Tag: experimental innovation



Another IPS (Inner Peace Symptom):  a tendency to get on with taking one more step in your right direction regardless of how you are feeling.  [This comes after “feeling your feeling” and accepting it.  Doing trumps feeling every time….]

It is a funny thing how if you keep taking one more step every day, eventually you get a lot of stuff done.  Things change because you make this move or that one.  The world reacts.  The people around you come or go.  Course-corrections happen.


So you’ve got a goal or a project you want to complete.  Others have done it, but, wow…it’s a whopper.  It looks like a mountain from where you’re standing and that feels overwhelming.  There’s probably not going to be an elevator, but if you’re in luck maybe somebody will have built a staircase.

Some of those staircases might be a bit hard to handle, however….

Suspended Staircase by Aaronth via Flickr [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]
If you already know how to get to your goal maybe you can make your own staircase.  Breaking things down into smaller and smaller bits allows you to stand a fair shot at accomplishing one designated step each day if you’re doing a thing that has already been done before.

You see how other people have achieved the goal you want to shoot for.  You decide what “manageable” means to you.  You systematically break down the big project into itsy-bitsy small steps and then you do them.

There will be glitches and days when it just doesn’t come together, but if you keep on doing one more prescribed step, then eventually you get to where you want to be.

One possible way to take that step forward is to put together an “if-then” plan as well as a “coping” plan.

Here’s more on that in this YouTube video,”What Small Change In Your Life Can Make a Big Difference,” published by BiteSize Psych whose Facebook page says his aim is to “revolutionize how we use psychology to better our lives, one video at a time.”

Pretty soon, you’ve got a new plate spinning on a new stick stuck on that stage where you’re in performance mode.  Then one day you look up and it’s a whole new world you’re looking at.

The thing about that kind of plan is that it only works if you want to do something that’s already been done before.

If you’re trying to figure out how to do something new and different, you’re facing a mountain wrapped in fog.  It’s sort of hard to even see the shape of it, much less carve out the steps to help you get up the thing.

Fog over volcano Mutnovsky, Kamchatka, Russia by kuhnmi via Flickr [CC BY-2.0]


Peter Sims, in his new book, LITTLE BETS:  How Breakthrough Ideas Emerge From Small Discoveries, explains that most successful entrepreneurs (especially those who started businesses with limited capital) have a tendency to take little concrete actions to discover, test and develop ideas that are achievable and affordable.  He calls these experiments “little bets.”

You make these miniscule little moves that will maybe work.

When they do work (and even when they don’t), the little moves provide you with information about the next little step to take.  Then you take that step.

If it works, you do it again and add another little bet to the mix.  If it doesn’t work, you try something else.

Because you don’t know what is actually going to happen when you are trying to do something new, you can’t analyze things too much at the beginning.

How can you analyze something you know little or nothing about?  You’d be shooting blind at a narrow target on some unknown horizon.

You, for sure, are not going to be able to develop an elaborate plan because you just won’t know all the factors that are going to be set into motion by your actions.

It’ll be slow.  It’ll be frustrating.  Sometimes it will be downright disheartening.


These different ways of stepping are sort of like the difference between cooking according to a set plan with a specific menu, recipes all picked out and all of the necessary fixings on hand in your own well-equipped kitchen, and winging it with whatever happens to be in your friend’s pantry and cupboards.

If you’re doing the set meal, it’s likely that you’ll be able to plan out how you’re going to get everything cooked in sequence, efficiently and well.

It’ll all get done and the results will probably be predictable.  You and the people you feed will know pretty much what to expect.

If you’re throwing stuff together catch-as-can, maybe it’ll turn out good or maybe not.

The result will depend partly on what is in those cupboards you’re rummaging through and partly on how good you are at improvising and playing with food.

Chunky Chili Cooking by Bob Peters via Flickr [CC BY 2.0]
That example was tendered by Professor Saras Sarasvathy from the Darden Graduate School of Business at the University of Virginia.  Sarasvathy is one of the few researchers studying how entrepreneurs tend to make decisions.

She says that the MBA-trained managers she teaches at the Darden School are likely to follow the methods used by the set-meal cook.

Their “procedural planning” approaches are highly dependent on making predictions about the future based on past experience.

Planning Close-up by Dan Foy via Flickr [CC BY 2.0]
Detailed planning is the primary method used to try to predict things like consumer demand, financial costs, what market conditions are likely to be and from where the competition will probably come.  When a lot is already known, these methods work perfectly well.

However, many entrepreneurs, Sarasvathy says, are more likely to be like the improviser cook rummaging through the cupboards of a new-to-them kitchen.  They are more likely to be the ones who experiment and play and come up with new ideas that have never been seen before.

Success in the business world does depend on predictability and reliable results so there will always be a need for procedural, detailed planning.

However, in this world of accelerated change, it is also a very good idea to develop the ability to experiment and try out new approaches, to practice “experimental innovation.”


  •  Experiment.  Learn by doing.  Fail quicker and learn faster.  Develop experiments and prototypes to gather insights and identify problems as you build up to creative ideas.
  • Develop an attitude of playfulness and humor.  Let ideas incubate and hatch.  Suspend premature judging games and let the idea grow as it will.
  • Soak up life. Take the time to get out into the world to get fresh ideas or insights.  Reflect on and try to understand human motivations and desires so you can address meeting them in a new, cooler way.  Figure out how things work from the ground up so you can build the thing well.
  • Define problems, find solutions.  Use the insights you gather throughout this process to define the problems and needs you are encountering so that you can find the solutions that will resolve them.
  • Keep your hands on the wheel.  Make use of small wins to make necessary pivots and course corrections when they’re needed and eventually you’ll find a way to complete this project you’re doing.  (It probably won’t turn out exactly as you pictured it.)
  • Repeat, refine and test.  Repeat, refine and test.  Repeat, refine, and test.  Each time you do this you’ll have better insights, more information and a more complete framework for this thing you’re building.

Instead of a stately march, the experimental innovation mode is more like a goofy dance that sometimes actually makes it to Cool.

It seems to me that knowing how to waltz, tango, swing, and tap-dance as well as promenade can be a very good thing.  So can knowing how to wing it.

Here’s another poem…



I know I’ve heard the one about

The thousand-mile journey

Beginning with one step

At least a thousand times.

Everybody says it…

Over and over, ad nauseum,

Trying to get you to


The step that starts you on

The long, long journey.


Nobody ever tells you

There’s another part to it.

Nobody ever says,

“The path of a thousand miles ends in the heart.”

They forget to tell you that part.

And I have to think

How much EASIER it would’ve been to know

(As you started off on that thousand-mile walk)

That something so fine was waiting there at the end.

How do you quest when you’ve got no goal?

How do you even start?


Can you feel it?

Do you hear it?

Listen for the rest of the promise:

At the end of all the trials and tribulations

You will meet along the way,

The penultimate Holy Grail is one heart…

One all-too-human heart…

One glorious, beating, feeling heart

That’s open to the raw and scouring winds

Blowing through this old world…

Laying down the sound that powers your dance –

The sound behind compassion,

The one that invokes reverence, wonder and awe,

The one that bestows gratitude and untrammeled joy.


That back-beat, solid and strong,

Lifts up your tired feet and sets your body moving

To the pounding rhythm,

Whips right through you like a sonic BOOM-bada-BOOM-bada-BOOM.



Now you know.

Are ya gonna just sit there?

by Netta Kanoho

Heading picture credit:  Sunrise, Haleakala, Maui by blese via Flickr [BY-NC 2.0]

Thanks for your visit.  I’d appreciate it if you’d drop a comment or note below and tell me your thoughts…..







Get Social....

Enjoy this blog? Please spread the word :)