What are you experimenting with?
"All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better"
- Ralph Waldo Emerson.
This Sprint I have been focusing on building out my products and services for what is currently Ross Power Consulting (original name, I know). I've been getting stuck into Lean Startup, by Eric Reis, a book which has informed a lot of the innovation and strategy work I've done previously and aligns closely to Agile principles and Design Thinking. It's the bible for the startup world and has been credited by many of the largest companies today as being key to their success.
As. result of reading this, and following my ask for feedback, I've reflected on my own journey over the last 8 weeks with this newsletter. So, at the end of Sprint 4, I'm changing gear and honing in on the direction of Collecting Dots.
Nearly every type of innovation technique that is being used and deployed in software development and beyond today lead back to one thing - the scientific method.
Lean Startup is the latest iteration of this journey which is centred on the process of hypothesizing, testing, observing and iterating. Athough it's largely viewed as the start of this, in fact In the mid-1990s writers from Wharton business school published a paper called Discovery Driven Planning; a primary tool of it was The Reverse Income Statment.
There is no use in working night after night on the next big thing, believing your own bullshit, without actually finding out if it works and if people, your end-users actually want it. Likewise, in your own life, there's not much good in waiting and wondering whether you should make a change, large or small. You must of course balance the risks and think about your own personal risk portfolio (Adam Grant, Originals), but you'll only learn by doing . Consulting others can help, but only so much. It comes down to who you are and what you want (an article I'm writing more about at the moment). All the asking and wondering about whether I should take the plunge and leave my job got me so, fundamentally I had to make the decision and begin this next experiment in my life.
Being persistent and putting in the hard work building or doing is of course key, however tinkering, trying and failing is crucial! Knowing, when to pivot and change direction, is one of the most important ingredients of success, and what so many companies large and small and so many people fail to do.
With this in mind, I thought I'd share my own learnings and reflections from the last 8 weeks of building this newsletter.
Thanks to those that reached out and provided feedback. This was sent over to me by someone which really helped - if you're working on a newsletter or may do in the future check it out - Dan Oshinsky: Writing A Winning Newsletter.
Collecting Dots started as quite literally the dots that I had collected in my journey from employed to self-employed. I thought that by mapping this out as I go I'd create a valuable blueprint for others to follow if they were to go on the same journey as I have. Perhaps I could use this to help others one day - try this first, then this, see if this works. The trouble is, this both very much goes against two things I believe in strongly.
- We are all on different paths, and no-ones journey, however similar it may be, for example, another consultant leaving Accenture to go it alone, it will never be the same. We are all unique, with our own likes and dislikes, and all fundamentally will adapt and emerge in different ways.
- Life is about experimentation - you have to learn the lessons yourself. Again, as much as a blueprint might be useful at a high-level - perhaps some key areas, questions to ask, ways to hone in on message and brand, it again is better to find out as you go. To hypothesise, test, observe, learn and iterate. And on this point, how am I pivoting in direction with Collecting Dots?
I've actually had a bit of laugh to myself writing this as I've realised how confusing it might have been. Although the feedback has been good, I do think the newsletters may have been a little overwhelming -"What I've been up to, what inspired me, look at this, oop and that, wow and this, shit look over there, this too!".
I mean, to be honest, this has been a pretty good description of my mind the last few months. It's hard not to get excited by new opportunities, particularly when I now have more time than before to work on my own thinking, but you have to know when something needs to be put on the back burner.
It's also not entirely accurate. Of course, what I've told you I've done is true, but its not everything, and I have also being trying to impress you (shock!). Like a quarterly review at work, where you compile your greatest hits of the last 3 months - "look, look at this incredibly-valuable, wonderfully-high-performance, totally on-point thinking I've done"... you fail to add in the hours of procrastination and piles of shite, which I'm sure there must be some of. So yes, I too have done my fair share of procrastination and shite work... plenty of it.
Good to get that off my chest.
Right, so what is this going to be about then?
I'm working and thinking in two mindsets - Ross Power Consulting and my learning as I build my services centred Organisational Alignment, and Collecting Dots - my thoughts on being mindful with our ambition and philosophising about life. Although there is of course cross-over between the two, and the thinking in Collecting Dots will certainly inform my business, they are not the same.
As you'll have read or heard in my previous post, I've honed in on my content - Mindful Ambition for Restless Achievers - thanks to NessLabs Collector to Creator Course. Read here or click the player below to listen if you are interested and missed it.
Although mindful ambition for restless achievers does speak to aspects of bootstrapping my business - as I am both a restless achiever and trying to become more mindful with my ambition - there is some detail that I have offered which may be less valuable.
A few other learnings and changes:
Sprints - I started out with the Sprint format as I was pretty wedded to Agile and Scrum. As much as I strongly believe in the power of these principles, it's just not working the way I had envisaged. Although it helps me ship content often, it's reducing my freedom and flexibility with content and sharing (I will however maintain my daily stand-up I mentioned).
Lean - It won't take quite the same format as previously - I'm going to lean things up a bit and just drop is some bullets to what I think you should check out rather than the clearly broken down segments as before. Anything that ends up going on for much longer should really be a piece of content in itself (my thoughts on strangers or Ego is the enemy from my previous one for example). The irony that this too is a mammoth article...bugger
Format - I'll still provide a light update on anything that I have come across that seems relevant, or any key learnings or achievements I've made in the journey of bootstrapping my business, but it won't be quite as detailed. Instead, each newsletter will have one central question or theme, and then a few updates on my progress below. This means, if you're someone that's enjoying my ramblings about life, you'll get this up top, however, if you're more interested in the journey I'm on with business, you'll find it at the bottom. And if you don't like either, well, probably best you unsubscribe.
Spotlight - I'm also going to be changing the spotlight - although I have enjoyed sharing a quick bitesize piece on these people I'd now like to develop this a little more. So, rather than a spotlight, I'll soon be transitioning this to be a short recorded interview which I'll be launching as part of the Collecting Dots podcast in the new year. This will focus on the interviewee's own dots and key moments of transition in their lives; their perception of their own ambition; their understanding of the restless achievers I right for and so on...watch this space).
Thanks for reading my reflection-come-confession. Maybe you too have something you might want to rethink. Don't get too stuck into ways of working if they aren't serving you. Use methodologies and systems as a toolkit, not as a manual.
Or perhaps something that you can ship and see how others react. Sitting on ideas for too long doesn't help. We are social being - we learn from each other, we learn from feedback. Perfectionism is driven from our ego - the desire to get things right and not make a fault - it can be useful at times, but it's not always best.
Our assumptions can guide us but often blind us. We can't know what we don't know, and yet so easily we fail to recognise how much can be learnt just by having a crack and seeing what happens. I've written and tried out plenty of failed posts, articles and as you'll know by know some pretty crappy jokes - I've cringed and felt embarrassed but I've learnt.
Test your idea, whatever it is. Get it out the door and see what comes back. If I can help test an idea, or offer some feedback please get in touch! I love doing it.
Your dots are valuable when shared, for you and for others.
Life is in the dots collected.
All the best,