Suppose you have an idea for a movie. What would you do? Keep it secret and spend a year writing a script? Would you ask your friends if they think it is cool? Or would you take the advice of script-writing guru Blake Snyder and go to McDonald’s?
Snyder suggests creating a newspaper listing of movie descriptions and including your own movie idea within the mix. He then advises to go to a local McDonald’s and ask at least ten strangers to circle which of those movies they would want to see. While you are there, seize the opportunity to ask what they think of your idea.
You know instinctively that this may hurt- your idea may fail. Your instincts don’t like failure so you will probably nod and say the McDonald’s idea is a good one, but you won’t actually do it. Your instincts have a point. Who likes failure? It makes you feel inadequate and unsafe. It is much better to stay away from danger as long as you can. Wait until you’re stronger. Delay the chance of failure. Unless… it is too risky not to fail!
When the world around you is changing rapidly, delaying failure is a very risky strategy. In a world where we don’t know what tomorrow will look like, safety will come from being able to continuously experiment. The winners will get to failure faster, more frequently, using fewer resources, and learning from it quicker than others. So if you operate in a fast-changing changing world, then it is time to retrain your instincts. It’s too risky not to do it.
So how do you experiment? How do you shorten the distance to failure and make it meaningful? In short, how do you set up what in the world of innovation is called a pilot.