Seth Godin is very big on the importance of shipping. It means overcoming your fear and getting something out – suggesting an idea that might be stupid, asking a question everyone else already knows the answer to, sending an email that might sound silly (like this one). ie. Just generally putting something out there.
I have now seen the example I am going to use as a reminder to myself on the importance of shipping – and it is Minecraft.
Minecraft is a computer game (video trailer) designed and built by Markus “Notch” Peterson. The game is not finished and is not even at the pre-release “Beta” stage yet. But that hasn’t stopped it becoming a hit (with comparisons to World of Warcraft) – so much so that the website couldn’t handle all the traffic and Notch has had to shut down everything fancy on his website and let anyone play it for free for a time.
Some office cultures include secrecy and waiting for a perfect launch as critical because they are concerned about “white-anting” (basically a termite analogy) of their idea by other staff.
Maybe though, if you are aiming for something great, you should look to share your idea and encourage others to join you by asking their questions and sharing their ideas, in the hope that the idea becomes so much stronger.
PS. ”Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap, but by the seeds you plant.” – Robert Louis Stevenson
Ants (or sometimes more accurately, the colonies they form) are truly amazing. Capable of incredible feats of engineering and teamwork (check out the tunnel structure in the 1st video). Much of this is due to their ability to follow orders and work for the good of their colony, often as a priority over their own safety. But sometimes ants get in badly wrong because of just this strength (the 2nd video below is an ant circle or vortex, which is what happens when all the ants accidentally end up following each other – to their own exhaustion and death usually).
Having just come through the 9th anniversary of the September 11 attacks, the western world spent some time remembering these events, but others used the opportunity to raise their own beliefs and conspiracy theories that centre on those events.
Say whatever you like about the conspiracy theorists for Sept11 (or more generally), but they do represent an important feature that separates people from ants – some of us will question things even though there is a strong belief in a particular direction.
So……Think about the last time you were swept up in a massive initiative that was, even from very early on, an out of the park home run. It was probably a really simple idea that had built up great momentum – a juggernaut by the time it reached you…….Did you ask any questions (or chase down the answers to them) before you were caught up in the enthusiasm for the initiative?
Given my focus on performance and key performance indicators, I find it very difficult not to ask myself a few questions about anything I see. – What is the ultimate goal here? How will we know that this initiative has been successful? What targets have been set for this initiative to achieve? How does this initiative align to other key objectives?
– People with different backgrounds/ perspectives will ask different questions based on their experience and the relevance of the initiative.
Asking those sorts of questions can be tough (on both the asker and askee) but the answers and the discussions they stimulate can make an initial good idea into a much stronger collaborative idea.
PS: ”In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock” – Thomas Jefferson
I pride myself on not just answering a question when I am asked. I prefer the askee to walk away with a better understanding of the problem they are facing and how to overcome it (though sometimes they don’t – sorry). This often means questioning the frame (or box) they have put the question in.
Google is asking a fairly big question at the moment: “What’s the biggest barrier to free expression on the Internet, and what would you do to overcome it?”. Certainly a great topic, worthy of time and effort to explore.
If we took the worst view of the those-in-power-responses-to-whistleblowing-type-activities we could easily suggest some pretty bad things (and many do).
Working with key performance indicators all the time though, I know that the story is almost always infinitely more complex. The only thing I have ever found to explain this is a Larry Lessig quote that is far too long (and even that says something)
This is the problem of attention-span. To understand something—an essay, an argument, a proof of innocence—requires a certain amount of attention. But on many issues, the average, or even rational, amount of attention given to understand many of these correlations, and their defamatory implications, is almost always less than the amount of time required. The result is a systemic misunderstanding–at least if the story is reported in a context, or in a manner, that does not neutralize such misunderstanding. The listing and correlating of data hardly qualifies as such a context. Understanding how and why some stories will be understood, or not understood, provides the key to grasping what is wrong with the tyranny of transparency.
Bring on the Matrix style training download of full, complete, detailed understandings.
PS. “Tell me I’ll forget, show me, I may remember, but involve me and I’ll understand.” – Chinese Proverb