In praise of incremental

Incremental is passe in a world obsessed with disruption and big changes.

But, you can’t really plan for disruption. You can create an environment which brings in talented people and allows them to ship new and interesting ideas. But, you can’t expect them to create something disruptive.

Similarly, you can invest in a new course or in learning a new skill. But, you can’t go in expecting it to change your life. It might. But, it likely won’t.

The challenge with disruption is that it is only easy to spot with hindsight.

What we can count on instead is incremental change. Every day, we can make our products a little better than they were yesterday. Every day, we can make ourselves a little better than we were yesterday. These incremental changes compound when consistently done over time.

We regularly overestimate what we can get done in a year and underestimate what we can get done in a decade. That’s because we greatly underestimate the power of consistent, incremental change.

In the long run, there are few forces as powerful as that.