May 6, 2024

Now you have context for when it’s time for the real thing


In the music world, the best way to improve your song is to perform it in front of a live audience.

Even if you only play it for a single person, that still counts. You’ll know right away what’s right and wrong with it.

Maybe your key is too high. Or the rhythm is lagging. Or the lyrics are boring. Then again, maybe your song is a banger right out of the gate, fully formed, ready for prime time.

You simply can’t know whether a product will survive contact with the market until it’s out finally there.

Now, this a deeply vulnerable place to be. There are so many unknown variables. But it’s worth it. Because when you do a trial run, you can test the operation of your new system to understand the practical implications.

The preliminary work exposes any holes your process, surfaces any unanticipated problems, and most importantly, gives you context for when it’s time for the real thing.

I remember when my wife thought she was going into labor during her thirty sixth week. We called the obgyn, who said my wife’s symptoms sounded a bit suspicious, so we better pack up and head to the hospital.

It doesn’t sound like your water broke, the doctor warned us, but just to be on the safe side, act as if you’re going into labor. I’ll see you there.

Long story short, her issue was a common third trimester infection that they were able to treat with antibiotics. Happens to about twenty percent of mothers. In twenty four hours, my wife was healed and the baby was unharmed.

Our short stay at the hospital was very stressful, exhausting and scary, but we were discharged with some meds and favorable prognosis. Thank god. All’s well that ends well.

One moment that stood out to me during that event was when my wife and I looked at the upside. As uncomfortable and concerned as we both were, we realized that this was our trial run. We were give the rare opportunity to test the operation of the labor system to understand its practical implications. With that under our belt, we had a frame of reference.

We had context for everything from dropping off our dog at the sitter, packing our go bag for the hospital, calling a car, adjusting to the brutal lighting in the patient room, interacting with the nurses, communicating with doctors, working together as a team, ordering delivery food to the hospital, and so on.

Listen, I’m not saying any couple really knows what to expect when they’re expecting. But at least when our baby comes for real, we could look at each other and say, oh right, we’ve done this before. What a gift that was.

Which of your projects would benefit from a trail run? Is there an operation for which you need to work out the kinks?

Sure, nothing ever happens exactly the way you rehearse it. There are too many variables in play.

But the delta between zero and one, and one and two, is substantially different.

Is there an operation for which you need to work out the kinks?

Sometimes all you need is the minimum amount of exposure to a process to think to yourself, oh right, I’ve done this before.

Is there an operation for which you need to work out the kinks?