To turn or not to turn

In another insight I talked about controlled experiments as a way of learning quickly and protecting investments. Experiments provide us with decision points. We still have to make the decisions, though!

Eric Ries emphasized 3 such decisions in his book The Lean Startup, in the context of startups, of course: quit, stick, or pivot. There has been plenty of discussion on these since:¬†here’s an example. I believe this trio of possibilities applies to any feedback-generated decision point, and I’d like to talk about a particular kind of the pivot decision, the U-turn.

Most of us dread U-turns, except maybe in traffic where they often offer us a way to thankfully correct an earlier navigation mistake. Perhaps our dread comes from our position in, and experience of social spheres? In Britain, where I live, a U-turn is one of the dirtiest words in politics, for example. (Interestingly, U-turns on roads aren’t nearly as prominent in Britain as they are, say, in America; there are roundabouts here instead.)

Is making a U-turn considered bad because “we should have known”? What if we couldn’t have known? Could we take the sting out of a U-turn by always setting expectations just like we do in traffic: wanting to reach our destination, not necessarily the route by which we do so? We are all susceptible to making the wrong turn and sometimes a U-turn is the quickest way to get us back on track to where we’d like to arrive.

As you navigate your product roadmap or plan, are U-turns an option? Could you make that turn fairly easily if you had to? Have you prepared others and yourself for that possibility?

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