Bothered by limitations – 10x thinking – The 200 words project

Continuing last week’s thread on 10x, not 10% – 10x thinkers, Ken Norton observes, don’t surrender to limitations – they get bothered by them. They look for ways around them, or things they can do to blow through them.

Google’s “Project Loon” is an example of 10x thinking. Project Loon is attempting to use weather balloons to bring reliable internet connectivity to underserved populations around the world. Whether Project Loon succeeds or not remains to be seen, but they’re trying.

A wonderful example of blowing through limitations comes from the 1960s when faster cargo ships and containerization revolutionized international shipping. However, when freighters from Hawaii reached San Francisco harbor in days instead of weeks, they were still forced to wait for many days since their documents needed to clear customs after arriving via postal service. Adrian Dalsey, Larry Hillblom and Robert Lynn saw this as an opportunity – while ships were still being loaded in Hawaii, they drove from dock to dock picking paperwork. They, then, put them in their luggage, got on a flight to San Francisco and got the papers ready by the time the ships arrived.

Dalsey, Hillblom, Lynn => DHL.

It’s often easier to make something 10x better than it is to make it 10% better. – Astro Teller, Google[x]


Source and thanks to: Ken Norton’s essay – 10x, not 10%

10x, not 10% – The 200 words project

The Eastman Kodak company in its heyday was like the modern day Google. As the chart below shows, its success was thanks to the dominance of film cameras – at one point, Kodak captured 90% of the film and 85% of the camera sales markets in the US. Then, digital cameras entered.

Kodak, 10x, not 10%

Were digital cameras a surprise to Kodak, then? Absolutely not. The digital camera was invented in 1975 by Steve Sasson – a Kodak engineer. However, when Sasson showed his invention to executives, management squashed the idea. While it is easy to criticize Kodak executives given hindsight, they did the rational thing and protected their highly profitable business line. Kodak, like many companies, was more focused on growing at 10% than by 10x.

While this note could be one about companies learning to disrupt themselves, this idea can be applied just as easily to personal productivity as well. Very often, we focus on 10% improvements over changing the way we approach things – simply because the small change feels easier. If we can’t bring about massive changes to our own habits, how can we point fingers at Kodak?

If Kodak executives had asked what it would take for the world to snap one trillion photos a year, a new understanding would have emerged. Clearly, you wouldn’t get there by selling film. – Ken Norton

Source and thanks to: Ken Norton’s essay – 10x, not 10%