Needle in a haystack

needle in a haystack

What ideas are you working on today that will have the biggest payoff? When will they turn into the value you expect? How will they be met by customers or competitors?

Nobody ‘knows’ the answer to these questions. You might have a good idea of which ones you prefer or back, but the work done by Nassim Nicholas Taleb on black swans demonstrates that these predictions are basically… unpredictable.

But all is not lost. What we do know is that organizations are always working on multiple ideas, features, products and services. There are always a multitude of changes going on. Some of them are going to pay off big and others less so. Some might actually destroy value. In order to create conditions that will lead to ‘asymmetric payoffs’, we can break things down into smaller, incremental chunks of work. We can create experiments that we test with users, customers and the market. We don’t have to go big all the time. In fact, creating governance systems that work on data and evidence from experiments, rapid feedback loops and incremental funding of the idea (not the team – keep that more stable) is a great way to search out those ideas that might create the home run idea.


Are there any ideas/projects/programs that are ’too big to fail’ that might benefit from being broken down into smaller tests and experiments? How might you develop a smaller set of experiments to help you better know the likely outcome?