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The Iteration of Practice

10/26/15
Ryan Snelson

We all agree that practice makes perfect. Once we get the hang of it, we can iterate until we’re better, or until that thing is better. Basic iteration proves we can get to a closer approximation of the solution if we repeat the process incrementally. The Iteration of Practice is about repeating that process, and applying the use of a new or slightly different approach (idea, design, method etc) to get a better outcome or result.

Let’s launch over it

In 1965, Evel Knievel jumped his small 300cc motorcycle 40ft over rattlesnakes & two Mountain Lions. He landed on the ramp successfully but sprained his ankle. Two years later he jumped a larger 750cc motorcycle 45ft over two pick-up trucks with no injuries.

Yes he was crazy, but he started small and practiced changing the outcome by changing his approach. His first MVP required a smaller ramp, smaller bike, and jumping over smaller things. This didn’t mean it was easier, it’s just what he could do at the time. After some practice and a few iterations later, he jumped 14 Greyhound busses at 133ft, on a larger 750cc bike with no injury. He went on to jump farther, higher, and over crazier things—holding world records and calculating risk with possibility by trying different approaches.

Metaphorically speaking, the Iteration of Practice isn’t about repeating the same jump and trying to go farther. It’s about repeating the same jump on a different bike, or changing the angle of the ramp to allow the bike to clear different obstacles.

The World’s Greatest Dare-Devil Circus

This is the way I look at products and startups. It’s one giant Evel Knievel event. A lot of startups want to jump 14 Greyhound busses on their 1st attempt. They sell tickets to their event and promise the crowd (usually made up of users and investors) that they can deliver. People show up and eventually leave because the company crashes or can’t get the bike started. If your product does what it says, and can “make the small jumps” successfully, then it’s on its way to what’s commonly referred to as scaling…or having the possibility to make bigger or different jumps.

 Poster for The World’s Greatest Dare-Devil Circus

Poster for The World’s Greatest Dare-Devil Circus

Taking risk is important but it needs to be calculated and incrementally proven. If you’re really good it might get done on the 1st attempt. Evel Knievel was really good, but he knew that jumping 14 Greyhound busses might take some time to get right. We talk about the importance of failure because it’s inevitably part of the practice. We practice until we don’t fail and we practice to learn the next thing. You can’t get good unless you practice and learn. Do more practicing.

Practice iterating whatever you do.

Land safely and good luck.

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