It’s pretty disappointing when you come up with a great advertising idea, new website or app – only to be shown one just like it. To learn that it has been done already. It’s a bit deflating in fact.
Unless we purposely decide to flip it around.
What we ought do instead is a create a list of the ideas and projects we arrived just a little to late on.
The list should be called the: ‘Validation of Awesomeness‘ list.
On this list is all the things that you thought of or started independently, just not soon enough. In fact the longer this list gets the happier we should be. We should be happy if it is long, because it proves we are on track. It proves our brain is cranking, we are on the path to getting it right. And eventually, we’ll have a fresh idea that we can take to market and get our own share of awesomeness. It proves our creative prowess. The list tells us it is just a matter of time. In addition it just might gives us the confidence we need to get it to market quickly.
A colleague sent me this quote that I just had to share right here on startup blog. Henri Federic Albert said:
“The man who insists on seeing with perfect clearness before he decides, never decides.”
And that is what we must learn to deal with in growth businesses – uncertainty. Our ability to decide based on a intuition and our personal world view is becoming a rare asset. It’s what we must move towards in a world full of data, but very little meaning. The other benefit decisions give us is real world feedback. If we get it wrong we can cross it off the list and move onto the next idea.
Iterating in business is an art form. It’s how we grow and find a path to establish the features that matter. It’s not about more, it’s about finding what works, which means that as we morph and change, certain features must be sacrificed, left or or purposely cut off. Nature exemplifies this. Nature takes time to roll out new features, and is well prepared to sacrifice old ones which no longer pay their way. Nature takes years to develop the perfect mix, but is in a constant state of evolution.
The coffee market has been one of the most interesting category evolutions we’ve seen in the past decade or so. Especially given the drink has been around thousands of years. What’s most interesting is that it was a commodity market at brand and retail level for the largest part of the past 60 years. Granules in a tin which one mixes with boiling hot water. Large brands then competed on price with occasional soapie style advertising.
Enter coffee culture and in 15 short years everything has changed. Coffee isn’t coffee anymore. Coffee is latte, coffee is short machiato, coffee is espresso, coffee is arabica versus robusta. But it evolved slowly, and the latest trend in coffee drenched Melbourne is cold dripped coffee. The point for startups is simple: we can’t go from Nescafe blend 43 straight to cold drip coffee. We have to take people on a journey with us, chapter by chapter. Shown below is another photo essay of a coffee haunt on little Collins Street Melbourne called Sensory Lab.
The question for entrepreneurs is what industry can we invent a journey to take people on?
I’ve had to very quickly pull together a social media straetgy for a project I am working on. The timeline I had was a few hours. I’m certain that only due to the fact that I’ve been an avid blogger for a few years was I able to meet the deadline. Blogging creates great habits. It forces us to consider our chosen topic deeply and regularly. (startups & marketing in my case) It forces us to respond to our ideas quickly, to trust their value and publish them anyway, before tomorrow comes. It’s a personal newspaper and our readers want to know what’s new everyday. They’re not looking for perfection, but inspiration.
Whatver we do, are interested in and regardless of our industry, blogging is a must for those of us wanting to get better and faster.
I once heard an interview with drummer Rob Hirst from the rock band Midnight Oil. It was in reference to one of their most critically acclaimed and best selling song, Power and the passion. Rob was asked about the infamous drum solo in the middle of the song, which not only doesn’t sound indulgent, but fits the rhythm and meaning of the song. What I find most interesting from an entrepreneurial perspective is how it all came about, this is what Rob had to say:
“It was 1982 and drum machines were entering the music scene and replacing drummers very quickly. They were cheaper and more reliable. It was a time when drummers were throwing themselves off cliff tops. Rather than fear the technological advancement, I thought it might be better to embrace it. I wondered how I could use it to supplement what I was already doing to make it better. So for the Power and the Passion, I decided to have a drum machine playing in the background on the entire track. By doing this it freed up my arms and legs to add some color to the song, and ultimately allowed for the drum solo which is often sited as the catalyst that makes the song so great.”
The story above is one for all the Luddites out there. for the technology fear mongers, and those who worry about being replaced. The truth is, we should be happy when technology replaces labour for the simple reason that it opens the door to creativity. It opens the door to opportunity, for a better use of our time and resources.
You can watch / listen the drum solo at 2.35 minutes on the clip below. Be sure to listen for the drum machine track quietly providing the beat underneath.
PS – the smashing sound at the end of the solo is a florescent light tube Rob brought into the studio for a dramatic industrial effect, not a pane of glass. Awesome.
The art of adding features to any product or service is this:
Those who need or want the new features can find them easy.
Meanwhile those who don’t need or want the features don’t even notice them. They are invisible.
Sounds impossible to do, but I think the team at twitter are doing a pretty good job of it. The way I’d try and achieve this would be by making sure the visual structure doesn’t change, and the sequence of events to use it is not interrupted.
shhh – here comes the controversy.