Monday, April 19, 2010

Incremental Improvement

My old friend @jiashwu blogged about it here (and my morning routine has never been the same since). I knew it was important, but I never really knew until recently. By that I mean, I'd never consciously reflected on it.

I'm reminded of a conversation I had with Dean of Student Affairs at Queen's University, Dr. Laker, when I was coordinating the 2008 Orientation week. Queen's boasts the only student-run Orientation week in Canada, which I was at the helm of in 2008 (who's boasting now?). It's also the subject of much scrutiny, year over year. Jason, as I colloquially called him, once told me in the splendor of his gigantic, corner office that he liked the idea of gently improving upon orientations past, rather than a once-every-ten-year draconian review. I agreed, it made sense in practice. It also sounded easier than overseeing such a daunting review.

Over the last few weekends, Sarp and I have been continually improving our living situation. We have been consistently making small purchases, a light fixture here, a shower head there. And in looking back now, at how things have changed in the last month, I can confidently proclaim that our space is a lot better than it used to be. Adjustable lighting levels and massage-able shower heads go a long way, even though they're not particularly glamorous items.

My personal development is probably a lot similar. I'm not going to run a marathon tomorrow. But I will be victorious in my pre-7am 7km conquest. And next week maybe I'll push for 8. It's tedious, it's monotonous, but it's sustainable progress.

I think the same thing goes for business. You can't anticipate every bad thing that's going to happen. And I assure you, with all too much of my own personal experience, things will go awry. Business though, is like golf, in that what's most important is being able to adeptly correct from a poor stroke, rather than consistently hammering out perfect shots every time.

I have a pretty good idea of what my clients want, but I can't know for sure. There is a moment at which the extent of my planning becomes redundant. It is CERTAINLY important to get to that point, and plan properly. But don't dwell on it. I need to launch my product and then listen for feedback. If I've completely missed the mark, I might need to assess and make an executive decision to change direction or choose to stay the course. Or maybe a slight adjustment is all that the Dr. will order (I'm serious, a lot of my clients are doctors). Either way, you can only plan to a point. At some instance you have to just go for it. Then, shut up and listen to what people are saying. Make the appropriate changes as quickly as possible. And then keep listening.

Oh yeah, it probably goes without saying that the faster you can improve the better.


  1. Your flat sounds like paradise. Thanks for the shout-out.

  2. Not quite. At this rate though, it should be closing in on awesome pretty soon. The Xbox was a big step up.

    Thanks for composing such enthralling prose.