1,000 opinions = 1 test

“One test is worth 1,000 opinions.” Reportedly coined by “real” pilot Tex Johnson.

[Sidebar: What is a real pilot? Mr. Johnson barrel rolled a Boeing 707 prototype during the Gold Cup hydro races in August of 1955. He barrel rolled a quarter million pound jet prototype in front of a quarter million people. Legend! End sidebar.]

I love this quote and it has informed my thinking as it relates to business experimentation. Often, when we are ideating on some new idea or initiative, we spend too much time trying to analyze every possible outcome.

We plan for contingencies and we second guess ourselves and we seek counsel. We beat the initiative (and our enthusiasm) to death–on paper–for weeks or months or years before we release the idea into the world.

The effort is exhausting and at the end of the day we still don’t know if the thing will work. But, what if we intentionally decreased all of the hand wringing and instead increased our attention on feedback?

What if we traded 1,000 assumptions for 1 experiment?

What if we worked to get the thing out into the world faster and then we iterated based on feedback instead of speculation?

How many more hits could we have if we just had the guts to strike out more often?

by Jonathan Wilson

Jonathan is the Head Coach at Sandcastle Company, a Seattle-based leadership training organization. His first book, Future Leader: Rebooting Leadership to Win the Millennial and Tech Future [link], is now available. Jonathan regularly writes and speaks about The New Leader Way, leadership resilience, and the future of work. He has years of leadership experience in both the public and private sectors, a master's degree from Seattle University, and professional coach training from the University of Miami.

Filed under: Leadership

Published on September 26, 2019

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