Iteration is Everything

I was on the road for 8 hours over last 2 days, lots of podcasts.

I listened to Tim Ferriss speaking to Jason Fried.  Jason seems an interesting character – professes to have no goals as he learnt at a young age that setting and aiming at goals only served to detract from his joy of life.  I don’t think his approach works for everyone, but I do think I have something to learn from his attitude of learning to enjoy and contribute rather than focus on task completion.

One sentence really hit me as he said it:

“In schools, you don’t learn to iterate. You complete the task, you hand it in, and you are done. In life, iteration is everything.” Jason Fried

When I heard this I repeated “iteration is everything” over and over for a few miles… because I completely agree.  Why am I good at giving a speech?  Iteration.  I get to speak hundreds of times every year.  Writing?  this blog.  I write hundreds of posts, edit them, improve them, republish them… each iteration is a slight improvement.

There is a story from Toyota in the 1980s.  Globally they decided to implement an employee suggestion scheme, but they left it up to each national leadership team to decide how to implement the scheme.

In the US, the leadership decided to pay 2% of the value of the change once implemented.  Imagine you are working on the factory floor of a Toyota plant in US.  What type of ideas are you looking for?  You will get 2% of the value of the change…  big ideas, huge ideas!

In the US they received an average of 1.5 ideas per employee of which less than 10% were actually implemented.

In Japan, the leadership decided to pay $50 for every idea.  Imagine you are there on the floor of the Japanese factories.  What type of ideas are you looking for?  Small ideas, little improvements, anything that slightly improves the efficiency or quality of life of the factory.

In Japan, they received an average of 55 ideas per employee, of which around 70% were implemented.  Within 2 years the Japanese operations were so much more efficient that they took the new Japanese operations and re-implemented them around the world.

Iteration is Everything

All excellence is from iteration. World class musicians play a piece hundreds of times with small improvements (or just changes) with each iteration. Sports is repetitive. My speaking is repetitive.

What piece of old writing could you dust off and improve 1% and produce a new iteration?  What skill could you focus 5 minutes each day on iteration?  What animal have you always wanted to be able to draw… draw a bad version today and iterate every day for the next month…

How to practice iteration… Check out this from Jason The Writing Class I’d Love to Teach

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