May 10, 2012

Learning Through Extremes, or Shifting Gears part II

OnlyOnce is 8 years old this week, which is hard to believe. So it is fitting that I got halfway through a new post this morning, then a little alarm bell went off in my head that I had written something similar before.  The topic is around moderation versus extremes.  I first wrote about this topic in 2005 in a post called Shifting Gears but I have thought about it more recently in a different way.  Instead of phrasing this as a struggle between “Meden Agan,” which is Greek for “everything in moderation,” and “Gor oder gornischt,” which is Yiddish for “all or nothing,” I’d like to focus here on the value of occasionally going to an extreme. And that value is around learning. Let me give three examples: -We were having a buy vs. build conversation at work a few months back as we were considering an acquisition. Some people in the room had an emotional bias towards buy; others toward build. So we framed the debate this way:  “Would you acquire the company for $1 instead of building the technology?” (Yes!) “Would you buy it for $10mm?” (No!) Taking the conversation to the extremes allowed us to focus […]