If you want to improve at something, do it a lot. Mute your inner-editor. Count, to keep yourself honest. If you’re operating in the thick of many unknowns, known and unknown, make many “small bets“. Experiment. “Build-measure-learn“.

The best way to have a good idea is to have lots of ideas.” For example, consider the story told by Bayles and Orland in Art & Fear:

The ceramics teacher announced on opening day that he was dividing the class into two groups. All those on the left side of the studio, he said, would be graded solely on the quantity of work they produced, all those on the right solely on its quality. His procedure was simple: on the final day of class he would bring in his bathroom scales and weigh the work of the “quantity” group: fifty pound of pots rated an “A”, forty pounds a “B”, and so on. Those being graded on “quality”, however, needed to produce only one pot -albeit a perfect one – to get an “A”.

Well, came grading time and a curious fact emerged: the works of highest quality were all produced by the group being graded for quantity. It seems that while the “quantity” group was busily churning out piles of work – and learning from their mistakes – the “quality” group had sat theorizing about perfection, and in the end had little more to show for their efforts than grandiose theories and a pile of dead clay.

Quantity trumps quality.


References and further reading:

Jeff Atwood. 2008-08-02. Quantity Always Trumps Quality. Coding Horror

David Bayles and Ted Orland. 1993. Art & Fear. Capra Press

Eric Ries. 2011. The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses. Crown

Peter Sims. 2011. Little Bets: How Breakthrough Ideas Emerge from Small Discoveries. Free Press.

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