By Ronn Levine • 03/08/2011
Procrastination and the Art of Risk Taking
We all know about ROI, Return on Investment, and ROE, Return on Engagement. Tom Fishburne, who blogs under the Marketoonist.com label, used the phrase Return on Indecision a couple weeks ago. His cartoon showed six people sitting around the conference table with the person in charge saying: “We hemmed and hawed so long, our competitors beat us to market. So let’s make up for lost time by slashing our price.”
Fishburne always writes an article to go with his cartoons. For this topic, he stressed that any ideas that are “meaningfully unique” are risky because there are no real precedents. In the March Hotline coming out this week, I’ve written a story about a new training workshop delivered recently by Business Valuation Resources; it was filmed live in the city of the speaker—and broadcast live to registrants. BVR President Lucretia Lyons couldn’t be sure how this would turn out—it proved to be a big success—but she believed that she had a meaningfully unique idea and committed to it.
Wrote Fishburne: “When many companies are faced with the unknown, they freeze. They spend hours debating potential scenarios and are incapable of making the go/no go decision. Sometimes this indecisive period lasts months or longer…Instead of arguing from a conference-room table, agree to the biggest areas of risk and frame a few experiments to learn about that risk. Get your idea or a form of your idea into the market as quickly as possible. As WordPress founder Matt Mullenweg said, ‘usage is like oxygen for ideas.’ Once you’ve tested what you can test, bite the bullet and make the decision. There’s only so much you can learn by debating.”
This led me to an item I saw in The Washington Post a few weeks ago—one “to move on” as Hayley Tsukayama wrote. The Mac App Store is offering a free task-managament app called iProcrastinate. “Users can color-code task lists, list the steps it will take to get them done, and set priority levels for each task. iProcrastinate is simple, but its simplicity makes setting it up a breeze for even the worst foot-draggers among us.”
Ah, procrastination. I had planned to write this column a couple weeks ago, but… “Never put off until tomorrow what you can do the day after tomorrow,” said Mark Twain. It’s about time that the app world got around to helping us with this important aspect of life. As a writer, I’ve been drilled from day one to meet deadlines. But why wasn’t I also drilled that it can be a little easier on the heart and often more effective to finish something early? Apparently, I’m not alone. The majority of the entries for the SIPF Awards come in around deadline day. Why not fill them out today? You’ll enjoy April 1 a lot more.
The iProcrastinate app also allows users to put tasks into component parts, making each part of a project appear to be easier. “Task lists can also be shared with others to keep an eye on group projects,” wrote Tsukayama. (iProcrastinate offers a mobile app for 99 cents that will let you sync with your computer.)
Fishburne also drew a cartoon to go with iProcrastinate last year. Titled “Brand Camp, it shows a mobile device listing a full day’s worth of nonworthy activities. He had just returned from seeing bestselling author Tim Ferriss, (“The 4-Hour Workweek”) speak in Wales: “I reread some of the book on the flight home and was struck by the story of Vilfredo Pareto and the discovery of the famous 80/20 Principle: 80% of the outputs result from 20% of the inputs…Tim relates Pareto to our work life by contrasting Being Effective from Being Efficient.”
But alas, that’s another topic that I can put off—ahem, I mean save—for another day. I’ve got some overdue filing and bill-paying to do.
So don’t procrastinate any longer and sign up TODAY
for SIPA’s 35th Annual International Conference
SIPA 2011: Cashing in on Content –
Models for a New Decade.
June 5-7, Capital Hilton, Washington, D.C.
Check out the five great tracks now!
1. Audience Generation: from search to conversion;
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5. Managing Your Business: from customer service to acquisitions.
And register early to get the best rate!
Wait too long and it will cost more.