Do we have to over think everything?

32139473 I spent several hours on a recent Saturday with a 25 year old entrepreneur. What struck me the most about him was how quickly and nimbly he moved from idea to action.

I'm not talking huge actions — but test the water actions. 

I think many companies suffer from "Overthinkitis."  By the time they have vetted, committeed and white papered an idea…it's not new anymore.  In fact, someone else launched it 6 months ago.

One of the biggest benefits of the digital world is that we can leap from idea to action quickly and often — inexpensively.  We don't have to vet it in a boardroom — we can vet it in the market.

I'm challenging myself and you — let 2009 be the year that you move from thought to action faster and with more of a "lab experiment" mentality.  Don't wait until it's perfect.  Stop thinking…start doing.  And start doing — faster.

John Moore at Brand Autopsy has an annual tradition.  On New Year's eve, he posts Bruce Mau's Incomplete Manifesto for Change.  Bruce is a remarkable design consultant who first crafted his manifesto in 1998.  Bruce's manifesto captures the spirit of this idea far better than I could.

Please take time to read it.  Better yet — take time to do it.

What's one idea you want to quickly take to action?  Could you do it in 10 days?  Tomorrow?

Update:  Jay Heyman's brain is on the same wave length.

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24 comments on “Do we have to over think everything?

  1. Rick says:

    Drew, congratulations on the mention in the Register. I will always be grateful for your comments and time with us some years ago.
    Rick @ Seven Oaks Recreation

  2. Gavin Heaton says:

    I got a similar reminder just yesterday. I had spent quite some time putting the final touches to some advertising and after finally finishing was told – “looks good, but I don’t see much difference between this and the previous version”.

    While that could be the perfect answer, it may also be that I had over-worked my idea. Made me smile.

  3. Karin H. says:

    The principle of ‘Ready – Fire – Aim’, worth to consider in most strategies.
    (Read the book – well, still reading it actually – the second half of the book is a bit tedious in my opinion, but that’s me)

    Karin H. (Keep It Simple Sweetheart, specially in business)

  4. Drew:

    Great post. I was just thinking about this topic the other day and talking sternly to myself to move on ideas faster. I look forward to reading over Bruce’s manifesto

  5. Just discovered your blog a little while ago and am glad I did!

  6. Rick,

    Thanks, it was our pleasure. I hear you guys on the radio, so I assume everything is going well.


  7. Jay,

    I find that our minds are almost always aligned. Great post, as usual!


  8. Gavin,

    I think that’s one of the challenges of our industry. The prefectionists versus the user. Often times the one creating the (fill in the blank) really wants it to be near perfect. But the user/audience can’t see the difference.

    YouTube has exposed that in terms of video production and I suspect we’re in for more of the same in other “genres.”


  9. Karin,

    When I find a book getting a bit thick in my brain…I start skimming. I give myself permission to skim until I discover the next part of the book that draws me in!


  10. Scott,

    First — I’m sorry that you got yourself into trouble! Second, let me know what you think of Bruce’s thoughts!


  11. Joe,

    Interestingly — Bruce used the same word in his manifesto — experiment. There’s a freedom in thinking of a new project that way. It feels less heavy and permanent.

    I’m curious, how do you think we should “define” when the experiment is or isn’t working? How do you know when to pull the plug?


  12. “Book” —

    Me too! Welcome. I hope you’ll come back soon!


  13. Karin H. says:

    Thanks for the idea – might get back to reading – skimming – the book after all.

    Just read this quote on Robert Craven’s blog:
    “Stop trying to be perfect and start trying to be remarkable” as marketing tip.

    I’m all for it.

    Karin H

  14. John Jackson says:

    Hi Drew,
    Thinking is so important and seeming so under appreciated. I do think we should actively teach people how to think it really would make such a difference.
    And once people start to think and question more, then no doubt ideas could be turned into reality far faster.
    In the current climate there is a huge need for the marketing profession to do a lot of re-thinking. Personally I think this is very exciting as we move from a time when it was easy to sell anything to anyone, to a time where marketing really will have to be based on some real smart thinking.

  15. Lori Magno says:

    Drew – thank you for this awesome reminder!

  16. Eric Housh says:

    I spent ten years in corporate America before recently joining a smaller ticketing software company, and I gotta tell you – the ability to spin on a dime and launch things quickly is helping us win clients on a daily basis. The key element is to know that fresh ideas are in “beta” and have to be monitored and tweaked relentlessly to deliver max value. If you just constantly throw things against the wall you’ll either burn out or burn your customers out. Love the blog, keep it up.

  17. This year I’m focusing on “executing” faster. And I’m urging others to do the same. That natural drive for perfection holds us at a stalemate for a lot of things that we want to get done. If we can move past it, we’d get a whole lot more done and in less time. And it’s not that we’re going to degrade the quality of what we’re doing, it’s just that we over-think things at times and it’s not good ya know? It’s not constructive.

    Anyway, there are a few projects that I’m working on getting out. I’m on it and I hope everyone else is too!

  18. John,

    It does force us to get better. The easy lay-up is gone so we have to be more attuned, listen better and respond with more customer focus.

    As the economic times get better — having those skills sets is not going to hurt any of us! Sometimes we have to get backed into a corner to sharpen the saw.


  19. Lori,

    You’re so stinkin’ busy with work, your beautiful jewelry and mocking your husband’s beloved jeans, I don’t know how you could possibly over think something!


  20. Eric,

    Love the company name. So, if you’re moving quickly and internally you recognize that everything’s in beta — how do you convey that to your customers so they don’t freak out every time you make a shift?


  21. Ricardo,

    I am right there with you. But how do you “catch” yourself if you are slipping back into the old over think habit?

    Where and how does the discipline come in?


  22. Eric Housh says:

    Hey Drew, thanks for the compliment. As for keeping our customers in the loop, we’ve found that as long as their money is safe and the system works, they usually have no issue with design tweaks or software improvements (most of our enhancements are requested by customers anyway). For changes that we think will carry a higher degree of customer, we use our client email and phone contact lists to give folks a heads up and we actively monitor our twitter feed (@ticketbiscuit) and support lines for any fires that pop up.

  23. cheap zetia says:

    Drew, thanks for posting such a good posts!

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