10× is easier than 10% and trying to solve the wrong problems

Super Moon

An emotional piece from Astro Teller at Wired talks about the notion of the ‘10×’ or ‘moonshot’ project, and highlights something we encounter every day at Made by Many:

When you’re working to make things 10% better, you inevitably focus on the existing tools and assumptions, and on building on top of an existing solution that many people have already spent a lot of time thinking about … But when you aim for a 10× gain, you lean instead on bravery and creativity.

Building on the work of others isn’t necessarily a bad thing – and indeed, iterative approaches to design and development can often result in efficient processes and effective results. But without the bravery and creativity (particularly the former) which Teller references, we often find that the people we work with end up trying to tackle the wrong problems.

What if we could replace all that effort on the wrong problem with the bravery to change the very question itself? Often, if you step back and apply enough audacity and creativity, the new perspective you get makes doing the impossible, possible.

We place huge emphasis on validation – not only of the assumptions we’ve made about the target audience for a product, or about the commercial model which might underpin it, but most fundamentally of the brief itself. Skype in the classroom grew out of a brief, with related assumptions, which would have taken the project and product in a very different direction to that which it’s taken over the last two years.

‘Challenging the brief’ isn’t exactly a new idea, but the extent to which we adopt a binary view – that everything is either hypothesis or evidence – makes for an approach which values both the power of iteration as well as the energy of bravery and creativity.

via Anthony House.

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