My Strategy for Starting New Projects

As I am wont to do, I will expand a bit on yesterday’s vlog in which I shared a few thoughts and my foundational strategy when it comes to starting a new project.

Here you go (and then continue to read) below:

I always feel this way when making most of my videos, but, I feel like there’s much more to say on the topic once I finish the video. And, as you can tell, this is a bit of a “stream of conscious” type chat, but, it’ll do.

The bottom-line is that when you start anything new it’s incredibly difficult to know if you’re doing a good job or if its headed in the “right” direction.

In an effort to qualify these things you need to pare the project down into the simplest form. So, creating a time box to measure against, creating artificial constraints to minimize complexity, and getting help from others to help you triangulate results is ultimately what you need to do.

I can’t stress this enough though… MOST people make their projects far too complex. Make them simple experiments at first. You can always add complexity later! This must be underlined, circled, highlighted, and more. The more simple you can make your experiment, the better.

In fact, if you don’t make it as simple as possible then you will fail your eventual retrospective on the project. Or, in other words, when you evaluate your project after the given time box, you will be unable to tell if you’ve done a good job or if you’ve met the criteria to continue the project or to end it.

Why? Because of all of the additional and superfluous complexity that you’ve added in. It is an entirely different scenario when you compare these two different experiences:

  1. Was it a failure /success because of X, Y, and Z variables?
  2. Was it a failure / success because of X?

The less variables you have the more objective you can be. A very visceral example is my vlog: It would be much easier to deem the experiment a failure if I made my “win” condition as follows:

  1. Publish once a day for 365 days.
  2. Learn mobile video capture.
  3. Learn script-writing and narrative development.
  4. Learn desktop editing apps.
  5. Learn lighting techniques.
  6. Learn sound engineering.
  7. Collaborate with other YouTubers.
  8. Create at least 10 playlists.
  9. Create at least 3 shows.
  10. Make sure that each video is optimally 10 minutes or more.
  11. Etc, etc, etc…

Instead, my “win” scenario to evaluate is as follows:

  1. Publish one video on YouTube every single day for 365 days.

Much easier to evaluate, right? Instead of the first example where I have multiple points of failure I have one. This cannot be over-appreciated. You must understand this philosophy and phenomena. You must execute against the simplest of forms to really see if it’s going to actually work.

And, of course, have fun. If you’re not doing that, then, what the hell are you doing that experiment or creative project for?!?

TL;DR on the video, by the way:

  1. Time box
  2. Create artificial constraints to simplify your experiment
  3. Create accountability
  4. Invite others into your experiment and process

And so this is how I build and start new projects. Please leave comments on the YouTube video or if you have further questions, please let me know!


Originally published at John Saddington.