Years ago, I was in a business workshop led by Jerry McNellis. Jerry taught techniques businesses and non-profits can use to organize complex projects and develop action plans that work. During the workshop, we were talking about the danger of using analysis to avoid taking action. Jerry shared some stories of projects that got stuck in the research phase because the team wanted to know more about the problem, possible solutions, and theoretical outcomes. It happens all the time.
While there are times when research can really help, exhaustive analysis doesn’t always make sense. There are plenty of problems that can be better understood with a simple, low-cost experiment.
To help us remember the idea that some mysteries can be better explored with an experiment than with research, Jerry offered this maxim—
“Try the squid pizza.”
Will you like squid pizza? You could list all the potential positives and negatives and weight them and diagram their relationships in an exhaustive orgy of analysis. But it is far more efficient to just try a slice of squid pizza.
I like the phrase “Try the squid pizza” because it also captures the idea that experiments can feel uncomfortable. Experiments are risky. You might not like squid pizza, but in 30 minutes you’ll have your answer. You’ll know the truth.
One of the things I like about starting my projects on Kickstarter is how easy it is to try an experiment. Will people like this idea? I can simply show the idea and get an answer in a few days. (And for me, describing a new project on Kickstarter is a hundred times more fun than doing analysis.)Don