The Fine Art of “Ready, Fire, Aim”

People often seem to assume that a Systems Fascist (like myself) is by definition terribly strict and uptight and unable to adapt.

It’s actually kind of funny because I’m the sort of person who doesn’t take to habits at all. Most people fall into ritual easily — I used to try to argue my clients out of having their sessions at the same time every week. Surely it couldn’t be the best time for them every week? That doesn’t even make sense!

But eventually I became convinced of the phrase, “Be regular and orderly in your life so that you may be wild and original in your work.

Too much flexibility is chaos, and being able to depend on certain things, even though there’s no real REASON for them to have to stay the same is what allows you be iconoclastic in other areas.

The other thing that people assume about Systems Fascists ™ is that they suffer from analysis paralysis— But they don’t, and I’ll tell you why:

The Origins and Causes of Analysis Paralysis

Analysis Paralysis is caused by lack of essential data. Because of course, if you had this information you would be able to act decisively either way.

So if the problem is lacking information— what’s the solution?

Most people do more research. This rarely helps. Because, let’s face it, if your problem could be solved by LMGTFY, you would already have solved it, wouldn’t you?

No, the thing to do when you lack information is to create an experiment that will give you the information you need.

Because it doesn’t matter what the experts think, especially when you’re only reading blog posts and not getting their PRECISE feedback on your SPECIFIC situation– you need to know what YOU need to do, not what the average person needs to do.

Market research is another hole where time goes to die— ration yourself severely.

I Create These Experiments All The Time

An experiment is what I’m doing later this week.

I wanted to build a community and get to know my tribespeople better. I floated the idea to my Mastermind, who told me that the full flavor of Shanna-ness really doesn’t come across in text— people should really get to see my rants and flailings in full technicolor. (I talk with my hands. A lot.)

I tossed the idea out to the illuminati. They seemed excited.

But how to set it up? What kind of platform? What kind of structure, or topics, and whatnot?

The first two I knocked down fairly quickly. The last one, however– there’s no way to know what’s going to work best until I talk with people, until I find out what questions they have to ask, and see whether people are good enough at turn-taking to manage a salon style group discussion on the topic or of it needs to be strictly lecture hall style.

No. Way. To know.

The best way to test the viability of anything is to construct a small-scale prototype. And that’s what the Holiday Office Hours are— a test. It’s the holidays! People are busy, they’re ready to relax. I didn’t go nuts trying to promote it, because you don’t advertise your test rockets— There will be more than enough time for that later. (In fact, I’m kind of excited that it got as much response as it did– that bit of data seems to suggest that my tribe was hungrier for meaningful interaction than I had ever dreamed.)
Too often I see people trying to figure out the One True Way to execute something in the planning stage when they should just start with something that seems reasonable and tweak it when they have some real data to apply. Because — repeat after me— there is no way to know.
Don’t let sprezzatura get in the way of shipping.

Practice the fine art of Ready, Fire, Aim.


How do you practice this art?


21 thoughts on “The Fine Art of “Ready, Fire, Aim””

  1. Wait. Did you just trademark Systems Fascist?
    In other news, I don’t normally have analysis paralysis anymore unless it involves a purchase decision or a major infrastructure choice in my business that would be difficult to reverse. As a recovering optimizer in most facets of my life, I still see the value in optimizing a number of decisions. Even small ones.
    It’s about confidence. If I need to take 15 more minutes to research a decision – and that’s the difference between me being able to move forward with or without confidence – I’ll do it. Tentative decisions yield tentative results and I’m a definitive kind of guy. So perhaps I’ll have to take some lessons from you on how to ready, aim, fire in my business.
    I’m so good at  ready, aim, fire in my personal life that it scares people. Adopting limiting paradigms (which I love and would be too restrictive for other people) like minimalism and Paleo really help me avoid the instances of analysis paralysis that used to grasp me in their indefinite clutches. I can only tell you how I practice this art in my personal life, which doesn’t do anyone reading this much good. After all, your post is in a business context and I want to keep my comments in that same context to be relevant.

    1. @joeyjoejoe Systems Fascists: We make the trains run on time. 🙂  
      Yeah, you do have to choose where you want limiting paradigms. I, for instance, try to really limit the number of clothes I have. I want 8 tops and 8 bottoms that can each go with every single other top– I never want to think– does this look ok? Because my confidence is pretty tied up in my self-image, and I don’t want to hobble my confidence in sloppy clothes. 
      See? The personal can be business-y!

  2. Love it. I played around with ready, aim, fire recently. I decided to do a soft launch of my coaching course. I booked a venue for an introductory talk, stuck an advert on Facebook and sat back waiting for the rush. Result = crickets. Bummer. On the surface is was a failure of ready, aim, fire. I got no response and actually I wouldn’t have been ready if I had! What I did do though was to stop my inertia. It pushed me to see what I needed in place for the next time I launched. When it would actually be fierce and real and WORK!
    It took it from a concept to a very real “what will I say first, and do I need handouts” kinda place. Sometimes I need to throw myself into the pool in order to force myself to learn to swim!
    Here’s to carpe diem eh?!

  3. Ready, FIRE, Aim? It’s actually fun! :))
    Yesterday, I signed up for Google+, and am actually shopping for a WEBcam!!!
    Might not have one in-hand by Wednesday, but still… Shanna, you have a hint of how much of an about-face that is for me!

      1. @Shanna Mann  We-e-elll ~ THAT hump, anyway. Thanks!
        I’m also (re-?)discovering the myriad little-bitty/giant roadblocks, each of which needs its own “Accept, Negotiate, Release” process. Looking forward to spotting ’em more easily, and dealing with ’em more handily, if not necessarily always faster or easier.
        Let’s hear it for baby steps, right?

  4. I keep telling anyone who’ll listen: “It’s all an experiment. IT’S ALL AN EXPERIMENT. Stop worrying about getting it right ON THE FIRST TRY.”

      1. @Shanna Mann I blame Isaac Asimov for my writing issues. His publishers said that on occasion, they published his first draft, untouched.
        Yeah, school and other institutions have us convinced that our first attempt must be the best humanly possible. Then, improve it!

        1. @spinhead  @Shanna Mann
          Hokay — and A) how long had he been writing, incessantly!, already, when that ever became true? and B) “comparing our Inside to their Outside” – I seem to remember seeing GreatBigCaution! signs all over that idea, somewhere  😉

        2. @Karen J  @Shanna Mann Oh yeah; my insides, his outsides. And, as you say, not his first book.
          The man had 4 typewriters set up, with a swivel chair. He’d type until he got stuck on his scifi mystery, then *swivel* biochemistry textbook! then *swivel* physics for dummies then *swivel* the history of this, that, or the other thing. (He had 2 real Ph.Ds besides eleventyleven honoraries.)
          As Stephen King says, writing is rewriting.

  5. I’ve been thinking a lot about the things that I want to tweak the new year, and one of my key decisions is to *not* wait until January to get started. If I stay in planning stage for that long, I’ll keep making the idea bigger and bigger until I can’t possibly live up to my expectations. It’s time to start now and adjust along the way.
    By the way, I love your statement about being orderly in order to create wildly. I’m moving that to my quotebook now.

  6. Hahaha, and this week we both talk about experimentation… love it. 🙂  Yes, yes, yes and yes. I alsolove how I’m a few steps behind in figuring all this out (about the usefulness of systems) so I’m always reading these thinking, wow, I can’t wait until I’m fully there. 🙂

    1. @sarahemily Speaking as a systems fascist myself, there will never be a day that you’re ‘there’. There’s always more to systematize. Just today I was wondering how I could systemize *adding* stuff to my todo list– maybe I could even find a way to make it auto-populate? But I have to admit, it’s a pretty nifty hobby once you get over your self-consciousness. 😉

  7. OK, I used to not be so good at shipping. It’s the perfectionist in me. But, the thing I’ve learned to embrace or be OK with is trashing an idea even after I’ve put it out there to the public. Once I became OK with that then shipping was easier because I knew that if I ended up not being happy with what I launched, I could just trash it and do something else (or tweak it, like you said) It’s the whole being OK with admitting you’re wrong thing. Once being wrong became no biggie, then ready, aim, fire was easier. I wasn’t afraid of the failure part anymore.

  8. This is an excellent slap in the face to certainty which so often gets us in trouble. And then the trouble we get into, of course, causes uncertainty and the notion that we simply do not know. Ha! What a roundabout way and a waste of precious time. Thanks for a fantastic post, Shanna. Sorry to be so late to this great conversation!

    1. @cjrenzi yes! and then, because we got in some kind of “trouble” from the “not knowing”, one (read: *I*) easily slides into the “But I Don’t Know!” whiney-dither-loop…
      “Ready, FIRE, Aim” to the rescue ~  Thanks, Shanna!  🙂

  9. So much of my time has been lost in the abyss of research. That is one of my favorite forms of procrastination. I finally realized, though, that if I was going to research, I might at least make sure the materials I was working from were really good and suited to my situation. That’s helped.
    I’ve been getting better at actually doing. It’s hard for me to take that spirit of experimentation from personal hobbies and habits into business and the like, but I’m starting to see the value in getting better at doing so.

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