Doing before thinking

Conventional wisdom tells us that strategy has to precede execution. But this rule can unwittingly work against tech innovation. Kevin Kelly summarized the reason in Kelly’s law: Old technology fails frequently, but in a reliable way: new technology fails less often, but when it fails, it fails in an unexpectedly new way we are not prepared for.

While dealing with old technology, we are familiar with its pitfalls to a degree that we can chart out a strategy. This isn’t true of new technology. The better approach with the latter is to start with the doing and not the thinking. It is better to pilot the technology with a simple idea, understand its quirks, and then scale it out with larger projects.

Several organizations today are making the mistake of formulating an elaborate “AI Strategy” before executing smaller projects to engage and understand the technology. No wonder they are beaten to its adoption by startups which are small and scrappy. Startups which try things out and then think things through.

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