How many of us have been involved in a brainstorming session, and the ideas just keep coming? One after another. Each brilliant idea leads to exciting discussion and then more brilliant ideas erupt until your sticky notes or Miro board are filled with amazing ideas. Everyone is sure these ideas will grow the company to be the best in the industry. We are all going to be wealthy! Our customers are going to be loyal brand evangelists! And then…
Someone must step in and set limits. There needs to be a vision and an implementation plan. Sometimes this takes the wind out of our sails, right? Why can’t we do it all RIGHT now? Although all of us can be prone to this type of project overreach, there is a particular psychological archetype – Passionate Entrepreneur – that revels in it (Feng & Chen, 2020). They are often visionaries, with incredibly creative mindsets but sometimes little practical ability to apply their visions.
Entrepreneurs have lofty ideas and sometimes do not know how to implement them. Their passion for their ideas cannot be understated. The reality is passion does not lead to deliverables (Lee, Keil, & Wong, 2020).
How about someone who is thrilled by learning? Having an entire world of information, art, and technology at one’s fingertips is more common and egalitarian than at any other time in our history. Graduates attending university are often faced with choice paralysis at the thought of deciding what to study. Those educating themselves, whether traditionally, for “fun,” or for continuing education, can spend hours or even days deep-diving into subjects, obscure or otherwise. Their original educational goal is now muddled with niche, diluted data (Oh, hello mirror! That’s me!).
Students and lovers of learning often bounce between subject matter like a dog distracted by a squirrel. That is critical of neither the dog nor the squirrel. I will let you decide about the human. Students are passionate about consuming education and knowledge. This can lead them to slingshot between subjects yet become an expert in none. Like beginning a study of Tudor history with Henry VIII, and not understanding anything about the war of the Roses.
CONFESSION: In writing this blog I went down several internet rabbit holes about the War of the Roses.
I am a researcher. I know that research is iterative. Since diving deeply into my career, it has become blatantly obvious everything is iterative. When designing a research study, it is important to lay the groundwork first. This can be frustrating for clients with big ideas. They want to understand the WHY before understanding the WHO. Often, WHO is the most important part. The base of the pyramid. The foundation of understanding. Without the foundation, the cornices will not matter.
Here’s the thing – business and education are both iterative. Therefore, when brainstorming happens, smart entrepreneurs build prioritization frameworks. All that brilliant brainstorming? You have to give some of it away. It must be parsed into smaller bites, analyzed, and given structure in order to be shaped into a deliverable. Someone has to rein in all the creativity and plot it out into a plan. The methodology is less important than the action itself. Every step must build on the one before it. You must learn to serve one customer before you can plan and build a customer service center meant to reach millions. Some recommend having more than one plan as your company evolves (Lavinsky, 2021), but isn’t that the same as having one iterative plan? If you start a second plan upon completion of the goals, are you simply analyzing the outcome of the first plan and then identifying gaps, ideating next steps, and going right out into the world again to deploy them? That’s project iteration.
This is why educators build the ABCs before the PhDs. You must be able to read before you can analyze Yeats. Primary and secondary education exist in the starting quadrant of an educational framework. Academics have course calendars that are spread over the years for a reason. Being distracted by something FUN to learn can take a person off track from what they NEED to learn. Learning fish husbandry, while debatably fascinating, will not inform your education or growth if your field is Psychiatry.
Iterate. Plan. Execute. Iterate again.
Life is iteration. The choices in your 20’s were iterations of your life plan and informed the plan you made for your 30’s, and so on. When we do UX, CX, EX, and other types of research, we identify the foundational data necessary for the completion of goals and tasks far in the future. Your iterations serve two realities: the current one and the one to come.
Feng, B., & Chen, M. (2020). The impact of entrepreneurial passion on psychology and behavior of entrepreneurs. Frontiers in Psychology, 11. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.01733
Lavinsky, W. by D. (2021, November 12). Entrepreneurs don’t plan to fail, they fail to plan. Growthink. Retrieved April 14, 2022, from https://www.growthink.com/content/entrepreneurs-dont-plan-fail-they-fail-plan
Lee, J. S., Keil, M., & Wong, K. F. (2020). When a growth mindset can backfire and cause escalation of commitment to a troubled information technology project. Information Systems Journal, 31(1), 7–32. https://doi.org/10.1111/isj.12287