Derek Sivers

Entrepreneur, programmer, avid student of life. I make useful things, and share what I learn.

Let pedestrians define the walkways

A new green college campus was built, but one thing was still debated:

Where in the grass should we put the paved walkways?

Some felt the walkways should be around the edges, to leave the center green and untouched.

Some felt the walkways should cut diagonal, connecting all buildings to all buildings.

One professor had the winning idea: Don't make any walkways this year. At the end of the year, look at where the grass is worn away, showing us where the students are walking. Then just pave those paths.


Of course I think about this with business plans.

As time goes on, we get smarter. We learn more about our customers and what they really want. Therefore, we're at our dumbest at the beginning, and at our smartest at the end.

So when should you make business decisions? When you have the most information, when you're at your smartest: as late as possible.

Like the college campus, you can do without walkways for a year.

Resist the urge to figure it all out in advance. Realize this is when you know the least.

When people expect you to make these decisions in advance, get used to saying, “We don't know yet,” then tell this simple story about walkways, to show them how wise you are.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/osuvalleylibrary/490461257/