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What 10X Winners Do to Keep Their Chance of Winning High

What 10X Winners Do to Keep Their Chance of Winning High

In 1985, Coca-Cola made the decision to switch their formula, creating essentially a different-tasting soda product. They called it New Coke. The sweeter version was arrived at after 190,000 nationwide taste tests that cost roughly $4 million. The result was not positive. Coca-Cola drinkers didn’t like the new taste — 39% or so were extremely loyal to the original — and Pepsi, their biggest rival, was able to say “The other guy blinked.” (That means Coke had reformulated to taste more like Pepsi.) The entire experiment lasted all of 79 days before Coke switched back to the original formula, which it now was calling Coke Classic.

    Coca-Cola is a very successful company, but in this specific case, they failed badly. Why?

    Fire bullets, then cannonballs

    Coca-cola was confident about their new product so they invested a lot in it and threw this “cannonball” to the market. When customers didn’t like this new product, it means the cannonball missed the target. This brought Coca-cola a great loss at the end.

    If Coca-Cola tested their product carefully, launched the new product in only selective places, like shooting out bullets, they might not fail tremendously like that.

    This idea of “fire bullets, then cannonballs” was developed by Jim Collins in his book Great by Choice.

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    The basic principle is this: during trying times, oftentimes people look for big solutions and giant leaps. They want to show dramatic success to emerge from the failure. But that’s actually the wrong approach.

      Successful people take small steps before making big leaps.

      This isn’t just work. Think about dating, for example, you don’t often just go approach someone and ask to be super serious or get engaged. You try to start to talk to them first, then go on a few dates, and include them when you hang out with friends.

      Or think about when you’re buying a car. Very few people walk into a car dealership with no research done and spend $35,000. They visit several. They talk to friends. They do research.

      In this model, bullets are small steps to test the idea first. Cannonballs are giant leaps to make a great impact.

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      You deal with bullets first, taking small steps to test an idea first e.g. prototype, test, redesign, and test again; when you’ve got enough experience to know this idea works or is welcome by customers, shoot.

      The cannonballs stage is about scaling the idea up, publicly launching it in a wide scale, and making it loud.

      By carefully testing something before you try to make it big, you can prevent big idea failure.

      How to fire bullets

      A bullet is a small empirical test that should meet these criteria:

      • low cost
      • low risk, meaning minimum consequence
      • low distraction, meaning not having great impact on the overall

        A bullet might be a piece of research you find, or a small focus group. They come in different forms.

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        Once you’ve fired bullets and see some results, you enter into this process:

        • Assess: Did your bullets hit anything? What can you learn from the failed bullets to improve other bullets?
        • Consider: Can any of the successful bullets worth turning into a cannonball? Do you need to fire another bullet to make sure it?
        • Convert: When confirmed the success of bullets, concentrate resources and fire a cannonball
        • Terminate: The bullets that show no evidence of eventual success.

          The process of reviewing the bullets is more important than the bullets themselves. Let’s say a student gets an “A” on a test, but he cheated. The “A” might be seen as the cannonball-esque result, but the process is highly flawed and could encourage more negative behavior. Reviewing your process is crucial.

          Now let’s think of all this in terms of the New Coke marketing blunder. Before those 190,000 nationwide taste tests at a cost of $4 million, and before they launched their New Coke, they could have try out bullets e.g. market New Coke as freebies in small size and distributed to only a few shops, use different ways to test out its popularity in different regions first; before they muster all the effort to a big launch of it and had to return to use the original formula of Coke.

          Bullets first, and only then should you fire the big launch cannonball.

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            How can you do this in your life?

            Think of it along these lines:

            Step 1: Find your bullets

            • What small things can you do to test out your ideas?
            • Are they at low cost, low risk and low distraction?
            • Are there any existing ways that you can take reference of/learn from?

            Step 2: Fire your bullets and review them

            • Hit any target? if not, why?
            • What can you learn from the failed bullets?
            • For the successful bullets that hit the target, when is it time to use cannonball to hit the target?

            Again, this is about more than ideas at work. If you’re courting a relationship, bullets might involve learning about the person from their friends, setting up coffee, and sending small trinkets. The “cannonball” would be the relationship itself, but you can’t jump immediately to that. There needs to be some bullets fired first — and some might miss.

            You can learn more in Great by Choice, which argues that while we can’t predict the future, we can shape it through dedicated actions such as bullets before cannonballs.

            More by this author

            Leon Ho

            Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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            Last Updated on July 10, 2019

            30 Best Procrastination Quotes to Get You Back to Work

            30 Best Procrastination Quotes to Get You Back to Work

            What do your 3pm fridge raid and perfectly alphabetised bookshelf have in common?

            You most likely did both of them when you should have been doing work.

            Procrastination is one of the most human behaviours. We’re all guilty of putting off what we know is important from time to time, and it seems the more pressing the task at hand, the better we are at avoiding it.

            Sure, it means that every time we have an important deadline we end up with a spotlessly clean house and a completely empty inbox, but the real work gets left until the very last minute and is finished in a frenzy of stress and caffeine.

            But we can gain control over procrastination by noticing it as soon as possible and stopping it in its tracks. On the contrary, you know you have a bad habit when you’re aware you’re putting something off, and you continue avoiding it anyway.

            To start you off with combating procrastination, here are a few quotes to get you in a motivated frame of mind, because if procrastination has any enemies, it’s motivation to work harder.

            A Few Home Truths

              “Never put off till tomorrow what may be done day after tomorrow just as well.”
              ― Mark Twain


              “It is easier to resist at the beginning than at the end.”
              ― Leonardo da Vinci


              “Someday is not a day of the week.”
              ― Janet Dailey


              “Success is not obtained overnight. It comes in instalments; you get a little bit today, a little bit tomorrow until the whole package is given out. The day you procrastinate, you lose that day’s success.”
              ― Israelmore Ayivor


              “The man who waits to know everything is the man who never does anything.”
              ― Craig D. Lounsbrough


              “Procrastination is like going to a fancy restaurant and filling up on bread and not leaving enough room for dinner.”
              ― Richie Norton, The Power of Starting Something Stupid: How to Crush Fear, Make Dreams Happen, and Live without Regret


              “Procrastination is the lazy cousin of fear. When we feel anxiety around an activity, we postpone it.”
              ― Noelle Hancock, My Year with Eleanor


              “Doing things at the last minute reminds us of the importance of doing things at the first minute.”
              ― Matshona Dhliwayo


              “You cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today.”
              ― Abraham Lincoln


              “A day can really slip by when you’re deliberately avoiding what you’re supposed to do.”
              ― Bill Watterson, There’s Treasure Everywhere


              “By what right do I, who have wasted this day, make claims on tomorrow?”
              ― Alain-Fournier, Le Grand Meaulnes


              “If you want to get ahead in life, I’ve found that perhaps the most useless word in the world is “tomorrow.”
              ― José N. Harris


              Some Practical Advice

                “If you get stuck, get away from your desk. Take a walk, take a bath, go to sleep, make a pie, draw, listen to music, meditate, exercise; whatever you do, don’t just stick there scowling at the problem. But don’t make telephone calls or go to a party; if you do, other people’s words will pour in where your lost words should be. Open a gap for them, create a space. Be patient.”
                ― Hilary Mantel


                “Thinking too much leads to paralysis by analysis. It’s important to think things through, but many use thinking as a means of avoiding action.”
                ― Robert Herjavec, The Will To Win: Leading, Competing, Succeeding


                “Only put off until tomorrow what you are willing to die having left undone”
                ― Pablo Picasso


                “It is only by working the rituals, that any significant degree of understanding can develop. If you wait until you are positive you understand all aspects of the ceremony before beginning to work, you will never begin to work.”
                ― Lon Milo DuQuette, The Magick of Aleister Crowley: A Handbook of the Rituals of Thelema


                “Do first what you don’t want to do most.”
                ― Clifford Cohen


                “How often do you find yourself saying, “In a minute”, “I’ll get to it” or “Tomorrow’s good enough” and every other possible excuse in the book? Compare it with how often you decide it’s got to be done, so let’s get on and do it! That should tell you just how serious your procrastinating problem really is.”
                ― Stephen Richards, The Secret of Getting Started: Strategies to Triumph over Procrastination


                “How to stop procrastinating starts with believing you can overcome procrastination.”
                ― Robert Moment, How to Stop Procrastinating


                “Never put things off…you will wake up and find them gone.”
                ― James Jones


                Some Tough Love

                  “Do something instead of killing time. Because time is killing you.”
                  ― Paulo Coelho, Aleph


                  “If you take too long in deciding what to do with your life, you’ll find you’ve done it.”
                  ― George Bernard Shaw


                  “If you want to get ahead in life, I’ve found that perhaps the most useless word in the world is “tomorrow.”
                  ― José N. Harris


                  “What is deferred is not avoided.”
                  ― Thomas More


                  “Inspiration is for amateurs. The rest of us just show up and get to work”
                  ― Chuck Close


                  “If you always do what is easy and choose the path of least resistance, you never step outside your comfort zone. Great things don’t come from comfort zones.”
                  ― Roy Bennett


                  “Your ideas have legs and just as they run through your head, they could be running through someone else’s head and it’s just a matter of who gets to the finish line first. Nothing is new under the sun so act on your ideas.”― Sanjo Jendayi


                  “You may not be punished for your procrastination, but for sure you will be punished by your procrastination.”
                  ― Debasish Mridha


                  When You Need Pulling out of Procrastination

                    “Time is an equal opportunity employer. Each human being has exactly the same number of hours and minutes every day. Rich people can’t buy more hours. Scientists can’t invent new minutes. And you can’t save time to spend it on another day. Even so, time is amazingly fair and forgiving. No matter how much time you’ve wasted in the past, you still have an entire tomorrow.”
                    ― Denis Waitley


                    “A year from now you may wish you had started today.”
                    ― Karen Lamb


                    Print these quotes out, stick them on the wall in front of your desk – do whatever it takes to remember why you shouldn’t be putting your work off, or getting distracted by a desire to rearrange your socks into colour order.

                    It won’t be easy, but being aware of how detrimental procrastination is to your longer-term goals is the first step towards overcoming it.

                    More Motivational Quotes

                    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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