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Abundance, errors and measurement

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Chris Anderson of Long tail fame compares the "economic" models of abundance with scarcity. (I found it reading Abundance and UX at UX Magazine.) He explains that user experience improvements like the GUI are the result of thinking as computing power as an abundant resource, vs. poorer experiences because you have limited CPU cycles. A summary:

ROI memo, get green-lighted for a large projectWe will figure it out because it costs so little to try it out, do small projects
Forbidden unless permittedPermitted unless forbidden
We (central authority) know what is bestYou (users, audience, market) know what is best
Command and control corporate managementOut of control: let it happen, measure it, dynamically respond, amplify good, suppress bad

This reminded me of a new book that is coming out for marketers: Do it wrong quickly: How the Web Changes the Old Marketing Rules. Disclaimer: the author, Mike Moran, is my former manager at IBM and I gave him feedback while he was writing the book.

Like Chris' message, you will hear about trying something small, measuring, and then altering your course of action. Mike uses the catchy "do it wrong" message: when there is an abundance, you can afford to make mistakes, and you are better off quickly making smaller errors.

If you have found the experimentation and risk-taking mentality a problem where you have worked, then tell Mike your "most egregious tales of delay, indecision, paralysis by analysis, and refusal to try things out" and win a prize. Better yet: the person who you write about will be sent a copy of the book.