When shooting for an ideal, whether it’s a new product or service, a movement or an empire, your chances for success are better if you create a tangible representation of that thing as soon as possible.
People will inevitably criticize your first attempt. They don’t understand the value having an early version of your idea expressed in the real world.
By having something tangible you can incrementally improve toward the final version, the version matching your original ideal. Beginning with a crappy version of your thing, then interacting toward better and better, excels over waiting to build the perfect version, or hoping to get resources you need for the perfect version, or just talking about how wonderful the perfect version will be when it gets built.
The few people criticizing what we did through our successful, small demonstration projects, didn’t understand our approach. What we produced matches processes used in every major success across history.
From crappy to excellent
Hyundai is a perfect example. The Korean car maker entered the US in 1986 with the Excel. Their first shot in American markets sold very well. As Wikipedia describes it:
Initially well received, the Excel’s faults soon became apparent; cost-cutting measures caused reliability to suffer. With an increasingly poor reputation for quality, Hyundai sales plummeted, and many dealerships either earned their profits on repairs or abandoned the product. At one point, Hyundai became the butt of many jokes (i.e. Hyundai stands for “Hope you understand nothing’s driveable and inexpensive”) and even made David Letterman‘s Top Ten Hilarious Mischief Night Pranks To Play In Space: No.8 – Paste a “Hyundai” logo on the main control panel.
Today, over 30 years later, Hyundai’s flagship products successfully compete with BMW and Audi. Along the way auto industry monitors awarded Hyundai’s autos accolades in several categories including top marks in auto reliability.
Our demonstration project model mimics this approach. I never expected rave reviews to start or even stellar results. I expected faults and starts, and complaints and critiques. Our initial projects created great feedback which became foundational to what we’re doing now. Just like Hyundai’s Excel.
What I do expect is we get better at what we’re doing. We’re doing that. Building something right away beats waiting as it offers iteration opportunities leading to more and better. Iteration is a key to being successful.
After putting early demonstration projects on hold, I had no idea how long it would be before we launched new, improved versions. Today though, we’re getting closer to new, stimulating ideas.
I can’t say what they’ll look like. But I’m excited about them anyway as we move closer to our ideal.