Last weekend, I traveled to San José, Costa Rica to meet with the Agility Feat team. As usual, the trip to Costa Rica was absolutely amazing even though there were no beaches nor rain forests on the itinerary. This time, we used the weekend to separate from our day to day responsibilities, mixing planning with doing. Here are three things we learned;
1. Make time to look back and think big– It’s very easy to get wrapped up in meetings, to do lists, testing skype and (ack!) e-mail. The volume of information pushed, pulled and programmed into our modern work day is astounding. This has the effect of making us feel productive by pushing e-mails around as we find satisfaction in a clean inbox. But a clean inbox, a business does not make. However, by taking a step back and turning off the digital world for a bit, we can truly connect with our trajectory in a way that is meaningful. On Saturday, David, Arin and I did just that. We spent the day with our computers closed and reviewed the past few months of AgilityFeat. By giving ourselves the space to think and discuss, we not only made better decisions but we were able to truly explore opportunities, rank them against one another and come up with a list of experiments to test our assumptions.
2. Experiment, now!– On Sunday we invited the team over for a lab day. Our team of entrepreneurs is always eager to explore business ideas so we decided to spend the day spit-balling and building experiments. We spent a few hours continuing the customer development work we started in Tamarindo a few months back and then divided into teams to work on experiments that we wanted to run. By the end of the day, we had a much better definition of our customer segments and 3 experiments up and running. Not bad for an afternoon!
3. Experiments are fun– Many of us have spent large parts of our careers following best practices and conventional wisdom. While there is certainly a great deal to be learned from the experiences of others, there is no substitute for testing an assumption in the real world. Validating ideas not only lead to better information but it’s fun to run experiments because no one is expected to know the answer.
Now you probably don’t need to go all the way to Costa Rica to take a step back from your business (but I highly recommend it, just make time for the beach too). However, it’s critical for all businesses to make the time to talk without distractions. Getting away physically helps but the key is to turn off the constant flow of information that is our digital lives. By creating the space to think big and test your assumptions, you can make incredible progress in just a few short sessions.