Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Lean Life

With all the thinking I've been doing about the lean methodology, I had a very interesting thought about life.

Consider that the "runway" a startup has is now defined as the number of build-measure-learn cycles founders can iterate through before having to give up on the company. The faster the iterations, the longer a company's runway. Thus, we are no longer defining a company's runway as time-dependent, but instead as cycle-dependent. This means founders with little time can still have a decent runway. It also means that founders with a lot of time can have very short runways. It all depends on the way in which they address progression.

So what if we stop thinking about life as being defined by time? What if we start thinking in terms of act-assess-learn cycles? Age would no longer matter and what we really care about is the number of times we can accomplish something and learn from it. It seems reasonable to ask what happens to the long, ambitious life goals? Well, just as build-measure-learn doesn't replace a company's vision, act-assess-learn doesn't replace having short and long-term goals. In fact, it makes it more likely that we'll reach our grand goals since we are taking short, measurable steps that result in verifiable progress and help push a flywheel that builds momentum off our experience.

In the act-assess-learn model, maximizing the number of cycles maximizes the length of our lives. What exactly does this mean? It means we have more control over our lives than we did when we measured them purely in units of time. It means we have to focus more on value and less on a ticking clock. It means we maximize the satisfaction we get out of life, satisfaction of course depending on the individual's values.