Point: Jump in and create, don’t worry about getting it right the first time
Story: My friend Joel wanted to write a novel. He took classes. He turned in assignments. But, he just inched along because he tried to perfect each piece. Then he heard about “National Novel Writing Month.” The goal: write a 175-page novel during the month of November. Sounds intimidating — 50,000 words — but it comes down to 1666 words a day.
My first reaction was, “but would the novel make sense?” Joel pointed out that the rationale was not to have a publisher-ready novel in a month. “The point is practice,” he said, “and to have much more material to work with than you’d have otherwise.”
To meet the fast pace of the challenge, Joel had to give up his inner critic and just crank out some writing every day. Now he’s got the draft of a novel. He’s got some gems, and he’s got material to refine.
This process applies to writing business plans, marketing collateral, sketching new product ideas and other daunting tasks.
Action: The first step is to set a goal with a deadline. Then commit to making some progress every day. Rolling up your sleeves and jumping into a task creates momentum. The result is something tangible that you can refine.
Creativity, How-to, Innovation, Productivity
Point: Use a simple formula to evaluate a design
Story: “Italian design” sparks images of beauty, the Renaissance, craftsmanship. Alessi, a leading Italian design firm, has been creating products for the home for three generations. CEO Alberto Alessi describes the company as an artistic mediator, bridging the highest possible expressions of product design with customer dreams. Given such intangible goals, how does Alessi access whether a new product design will succeed?
Alessi has a 4-part formula:
- Does it speak to the customer? (Do customers say “oh, that’s beautiful”?)
- Does it help the customer express a core value? (For example: simple yet elegant; uniqueness; earth-friendly)
CEO Alessi developed this formula after evaluating 300 of his firm’s products and asking why some were big successes and others were fiascoes.
Action: Look back over the portfolio of products or services that your firm has produced. Are there patterns in which ones succeeded and which ones failed? Use these commonalities to devise your own formula, or try Alessi’s.
For more information:
Interview with CEO Alberto Alessi in the McKinsey Quarterly
About Alessi: http://www.alessi.com/
Innovation, Metrics, New Product Development