Leaping before you look
Josh Linkner, Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year, Detroit Executive of the Year, and Crain’s 40 under 40 recipient told me,
“Mistakes are no big problem. I’ve always been a leap-before-you-look type of guy.”
Perhaps that explains why in his younger days, he sneaked into smoky bars to play jazz guitar… he also sold illegal firework from his backpack. But that’s a story for another time.
Trigger pullers and testers
If mistakes are no big problem, “Tell me about your mistakes.”
Surprisingly, Josh began telling me about avoiding mistakes and the product failure that resulted. He explained that his team crafted a product into, what he called, the “Mona Lisa.”
In other word they created a “master piece.” They solved all the product’s potential problems first, then launched, but failed. The four-word lesson he described is an essential element of entrepreneurship.
Launch early. Test often.
I think Josh’s insight defines the difference between dynamic entrepreneurial environments and safe, stagnant, corporations. Entrepreneurs aim and pull the trigger while others keep aiming. Entrepreneurs know perfection is the enemy of progress.
In a word
I don’t think Josh suggests intentional mediocrity. Do your best within reasonable time constraints. But whatever you do, do it. Then he gave me a highly “technical term” that describes his after-launch approach.
I love the term “tinker.” It’s attainable. Average folks tinker.
I think Josh is serious about tinkering. He may work as hard at improving as he does at creating.
Trigger pullers and tinkerers:
- Leave perfection for tomorrow, move forward today.
- Know mistakes are steps to perfection, opportunities for improvement.
- Realize “not yet” is “new and improved” in disguise.
You can’t take yourself too seriously when you’re tinkering. Tinkering is asking, “What if?”
But’s that’s tomorrow…
Yesterday’s post: Josh Linkner brings, “Contrasting Qualities Together”
What leadership behaviors, organizational strategies, or marketing plans lend themselves to tinkering?
Dangers and opportunities?
More from Josh:
Finding Your Competitive Advantage
Bringing Contrasting Qualities Together
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Launch early. Test often. I love it!
Casey, yes I think Josh really captured a ton with those four words. Dan
Casey, to add ..
Launch. Test. Tinker. Then … Tailor to suit !
Go with your gut, lead with your heart. These ideas have guided every decision, big and small, I’ve had to make in my business. When you don’t really know what to do–and when can you ever know for sure?–it makes sense to trust your judgment. I applaud and feel most comfortable with people who are willing to take the risks associated with this type of thinking. It shows their humanness–the willingness to accept they don’t have all the answers–but it also displays a courage I greatly admire and try to emulate. Running a business is not for the timid.
I’m writing “Go with your gut, lead with your heart,” on my hand today. Thanks!
Greg, ever hear of post it notes 🙂 … jk
My Drill Sergeant always yelled at me, “Steggerda, write this on your hand!” Old habits die hard.
Piggy-backing on Greg’s comment, Erica, very cool. Adding on too…
Go with your gut, lead with your heart and tinker with your brain!
Just don’t take it out and play with it.
I agree completely with the idea that we show our humanness when we accept our limitations, frailties, and lack of “knowing.” Nicely said.
I agree completely. I’m reminded of General Patraeus’ charge to Army R&D a few years ago to put good enough on the battlefield tomorrow, rather than make the troops wait a few more years for perfection. Most ideas have a limited window of opportunity, and waiting for perfection means they are introduced as that window is closing. In my experience, though, engineers struggle with the launch early, test often philosophy. We also learned as battle commanders that your gut is really a conclusion based on the little bit you know filtered through your life experience, so trust it.
I absolutely love the tinkering concept. I’m gonna weave that into what I do.
Hey LF community,
We have all come to appreciate all the value Dan brings to our leadership. His posts have been invaluable to us as we seek to be the best leaders we can be.
A while back, I had the honor of interviewing Dan via email to find out how he stays strong in his leadership. It’s part of a blog series I keep up called “Wednesdays With”. I got Dan’s permission to post the link here in case you wanted to check it out:
Thank you for sharing your interview with Dan. It was very enlightening and all great interviewers deserve a turn in the “interviewee” seat once in a while!!
I think curiosity, ambitiousness and learnability lend leaders to tinkering.
When you ask someone or need any suggestions, you have to have listening skills. In absence of listening skills, you are unable to learn. Leaders having listening skills necessarily have patience. so, when asking suggestions, you are at receiving end, you can only listen, you are not supposed to question that. However, if you wish to question, you can do it in humble way. I believe, tinkering is like begging and beggars are not chosers.
I think, being too humble may endanger you. When tinkering, you need to apply your logic, experience and question politetly than just listening and doing without using logic.
Yes, being too humble may also provide opportunities. Questioning may irritate person suggesting and may stop giving suggestions. So, knowing the person whom you need suggestion is very important. If you know the person characteristics and you have skill to handle that, you may create even danger situations into opportunities. So, it is all about people skill.
Many great points in today’s post – I suppose the one that spoke to me most is “not yet” is “new and improved” in disguise! I think the struggle there – at least as I see it in my not-for-profit organization’s reliance on a contracted, large, corporate third party administrator is that the “not yets” are not born out of a drive to tinker but of a drive to bury great ideas and initiative under layers of bureaucratic “stuff.” Oh the places this relationship could go (thanks, Dr. Seuss) if the two organizations could somehow coalesce values to have a shared appreciation for tinkering!
Your post reminded me of a concept I picked up (I think) from one of the “Excellence” books from the 80s: “Ready – Fire – Aim.” It looks like this principle has stood the test of time. I like to do things well, but at some point you you have to move to the doing. Besides, there is no way you can anticipate all of the possible problems or situations. Thanks for your thought provoking posts.
And within the tinker concept, ‘real eyes’ or fresh eyes to evaluate what you have done.
Right after measuring what you have done (looking back briefly) is a great time to celebrate the successes, laugh/learn about the missteps and begin a challenge for the next path to consider.
“Leave perfection for tomorrow, move forward today”, that’s something my business is slowly learning as well. Striving for perfection every single time is just not realistic, you will be stuck for months polishing the last things before even considering launching a product or service.
Getting the bare-bone up and running and “tinkering”, that’s a very good tactic, realistic, effective.
Those of us who subscribe to the “ready – fire – aim” philosophy, have a bit of angst over “tinkering”. However, the comfort level that we have with making mistakes, makes all the difference. We leap, sometimes we fly, sometimes we crash or burn out – what we discover, how we “tinker around the edges” is how we are able to leap again! Mistakes are good things as long as there is no fatal flaw. We can always recover!
I just want to say that lately I’ve been finding that perfection is an enemy to progress. I’m starting to feel more in my element, though, so when the deadlines are getting close I just have to have to courage to wing it.
Dan and community,
I think those that are surrounded by a great team have greater opportunity to tinker. If you are by alone or you possess the “long ranger” mentality you best nail it every time. Tinkering will produce failure for the “long ranger” because he or she only has so much mental reservoir.
However, if you are in a great team environment or community and you activity dialogue while tinkering, even in the midst of failures the team dialogue and synergy will procure huge breakthroughs sooner or later. That is why within groups sometimes you can “shoot first and ask questions later:” the team can help you modify and produce something greater even within the failures. Someone within the team is bound to say, “Hey, I think I got it!”
The four words “Launch early, test often” is power packed.. I would adapt it to “Launch early, improvise on the run”…
Honestly, that’s how I lived all my life. Even though I’ve got lots of scrapes, bruises, and physically disabled, I wouldn’t change a thing. On a wing and a prayer, I say.
Going to sign up through email for now. Easier to get RSS next week, when new computer arrives.
Truly inspiring. Thank you.