Derek Sivers

from the book “”:

Let pedestrians define the walkways


A new 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 grass green. Some felt the walkways should cut across diagonally.

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. That shows where the students are walking. Then just pave those paths.

Of course I think about this with life plans or business plans.

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

So when should you make 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.