There’s an old saying that if you’re pointed in the right direction, all you have to do is keep walking.
Or as Calvin Coolidge put it, it’s all about persistence:
Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.
Just keep on going: a great philosophy for any entrepreneur, exec, manager, designer, even entire organizations.
There’s just one hitch, though… did you catch it?
Absolutely all of it – 100% of this approach – depends on having the right direction. Without that one little element, the entire effort is for naught.
I’m reminded of Alice, who asked the Cheshire Cat, “which way [should I] go from here?”
“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat.
“I don’t much care where,” said Alice.
“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” said the Cat.
It’s not a small matter, to find the right direction. I should know (and should admit) – my entire consulting career has been focused on setting people out on a more customer-centered, user-centered, or patient-centered direction. It’s not easy.
Why is finding direction (or “strategy,” as I generally call it) so rare, so difficult? One reason is that creating the strategy is different from execution.
Put another way: you have to stop and take time to find the direction. You can’t run while you’re reading the map.
And this is the potential problem with popular methods…
• iterative design
• rapid prototyping
• agile development
• [add your own favorite buzzword here]
…which are great and all, except when there’s no well-thought-out direction to go in.
So be forewarned – it’s hard to be a strategist. People prefer action. “Ready-fire-aim” sounds so much more exciting and appealing. “Do something!” they say – and it can be hard to sit down and say hey, let’s take at least a couple of days to think about who our customers are and talk to them about what they need.
(You do talk to your customers, right? Because that’s a necessary step in finding your direction.)
Without direction, we’re presenting our flipcharts and our powerpoints to the Cheshire Cat. And he just griiiiiiins.
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from Good Experience