Friday, July 29, 2005

"Don't ever go where you have not been before."

I read a quotation much like that some time ago, but I've long since forgotten where. (Ed Hampton of Performance Perspectives LLC has attributed it to a Colonel William Nash's "Six Rules to Live and Fight By.")

I like the sentiment. We almost always do things better after we've had experience. In making presentations, most polished speakers and most presentation coaches recommend rehearsals. Actors rehearse plays before appearing in front of audiences. I'm told that people doing improv, since they by definition can't rehearse specific skits, rehearse the process of creating skits on the fly. Commercial pilots practice in flight simulators to be better prepared when they take passengers aloft.

In running a business, designing and executing a strategy, or solving a problem, we can use simulation techniques to get experience before doing the action for real. Among others, Dietrich Dörner, author of The Logic of Failure, and Harald Schaub have recommended such a use of simulation.

In all these cases, the rehearsals (simulations) can help us find potential problems and probable solutions when the cost is low. In many cases, they can do it faster than in real life, so you can practice running a company for years in just an afternoon.

If you have a more precise reference for the quotation or other thoughts, I'd be interested in hearing them!

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