Tuesday, April 15, 2014

the magic of short timeframes

Last week I had the pleasure of doing a Lean Innovation workshop in Mexico. One comment was echoed by several participants: they were amazed by how much they could accomplish in two days.

The key was controlling the time we had for each step of our design thinking process. On the first day, we did a crash course with very little time allowed at each step.

For our work on the second day, when we worked on five real challenges for the team, we expanded our timeframes quite a bit. Nevertheless, we allowed much less time than would normally be used by the team for re-expressing a brief, brainstorming, etc.

This is a key learning. When we want to push our creativity, limiting our time is a great inspiration. When prototyping, having a tight deadline enables us to quickly grasp the best solution at hand.

It occurred to me after this experience that internet-based businesses may be unique in the sense that there's rarely a feeling of urgency in the development process. We can always ship later; it's not like we have a bunch of users breathing down our necks. To me this seems like more of a disadvantage than something desirable. It seems to lead to an impulse to perfect before releasing, even in avowed Lean Startup practitioners. But if we apply time constraints to our work, and test our creations quickly and thoughtfully, we can reap the benefits of a truly creative process. A great side effect is learning just how fast we can go!

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