The Startup Butterfly Effect

   I was thinking about an article I came across a long time ago, in which a new employee at a detergent company was tasked with designing a better soap nozzle that would increase production and much to his surprise a whole room filled with engineers only managed to crop up 10-20% improvements over current design. Having a background in evolutionary science he wondered…could he make the nozzle design ”evolve”? could random changes really be better than a dozen PhD’s?

   45 random iterations or ”mutations” later he had a nozzle that was not 50% nor 80% but was performing a full 100 fold better!!! and the trick is…nobody knows why! yes, that’s right, to this day we don’t know what makes it so damn good and no engineer could have ever conceived a shape this odd for it.

  Working on the #SuperAwesomeMicroProject aka full size lego car I had a similar challenge which sounded like this: make an engine out of tiny plastic pieces that can move half a ton of stuff down the road using nothing but air . So just like the soapy PhD’s I went at it, spending months and months with a slide ruler drawing up mediocre improvements.

   This is the model I was thought, this is how you’re supposed to do it, right? WRONG! changing my work model to rapid iteration, hack & slash, trial & error is the only reason that lego car ever got built, it simply would have been impossible to get the 100 fold improvement otherwise. The car was evolved into existenceevolution baby

   So what do detergent nozzles, lego cars and startups have in common? they are all made up of unpredictable elements and operate in an environment governed by chaos theory, if you want your company to survive and succeed you must evolve. The big don’t always eat the small but the fast always eat the slow.

I leave you with this 2 questions:

  •  How do you implement iteration at every level/stage of your startup?
  •  How far can we push the model before it breaks? how fast can we evolve? is there a breaking point? a kind of entrepreneurial singularity?

 

 

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2 Responses to The Startup Butterfly Effect

  1. Adi Lungu says:

    I believe that creativity and the beauty of things have made people strive for better and more innovative solutions. Is there a breaking point in a development process? I tend to think that once you start working on a product, idea or project you keep adding value and transformations and sometimes that brings you further from your initial concept. That doesn’t necessarily mean you have to stop. Not at all. Instead you have to stay close to the main idea and make it as simple as you can.Just as Da Vinci said “Simplicity is the highest form of complexity”. And even though it sometimes might leave the impression that iterations have to stop, just trust your instincts. It will pay off big time.

    • Raul Oaida says:

      “Simplicity is the highest form of complexity” I totally love that! The point was: how fast can you iterate in a real world environment, I remember a startup that was doing 50 updates per day of their software, can you go faster than that with software? could you automate the process? what about hardware? real world objects?

      That Da Vinci guy…he was a smart fella!

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