When To Automate

Empty Field
Build it and they "may" come. Not likely, however.

The Field of Dreams was a fun hollywood movie, but a bad reality show. Try building a baseball field and see how many people will just come. The “build it and they will come” mantra can be enticing and romantic, but it’s highly risky. There are too many assumptions in a sea of choices today.

Ideas are a strange thing. When we own our ideas, they are powerful to propel us towards achievement. We are inspired to build something great when we own it. However, they can be terribly blinding as well. We are married to what we believe, and that conviction can have a double-edged effect on us.

What If We Are Wrong?

I enjoy reading about entrepreneurs and their successes and struggles. It is very hard to find stories where an innovator nails the concept from its inception and appeals to a mass market instantly. That’s not how it works. Typically, the innovator is initially wrong. They have assumptions of what the market wants, try selling it and fail.

If they are keen and persevering, though, they interact with their market and iterate accordingly.

Twitter became successful through this process. So did Food On The Table. The founders did everything manually at the beginning, failed a lot and kept refining.

Assume that your great ideas are wrong at the beginning. However, they need to be tested and sculpted to produce the end result. Your strategy would be different in building something great if you start with this simple assumption.

Automate Reluctantly

The principle here is to do the rigorous work of learning, refining and working on prototypes first. If you are:

  • Implementing a new business process
  • Selling a new product
  • Starting a new team
  • Building software
  • Trying a marketing strategy
  • Installing a new payment system
  • Starting a business

Then refrain from making things perfect and automating. In fact, delay automation until you have tested and can get market feedback that your idea, process and strategy work and is accepted. Test the concept. Invest very little and work on the skeleton before adding the flesh. When you see failure, then change. When you see successes, build on it.

When the demand becomes overwhelming, then automate. You will have a much higher level of confidence that the investment is worth it.

In the end, you avoid much more waste and use small failures to get to ultimate success rather than have big failures that can dissolve your endeavors.

What areas of work can you apply this with?

Published by Don Dalrymple

I am a management consultant to business owners, executives and entrepreneurs. I write and speak on systems, strategy and leadership on my blog and help empower business clients to achieve their goals for revenue and efficiency. I live a life of adventure and work with business clients all over the world from remote locations to help them start and grow their businesses.

One thought on “When To Automate

  1. My favorite quote:

    “When you see failure, then change. When you see successes, build on it.”

    Many people try to plan and prepare to avoid failure and then just hope for what their own idea of success looks like. In the meantime, they might miss the obvious successes right in front of them on which to capitalize.


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