I remember my first “one page memo” at P&G as a newly minted MBA.  It was redlined and revised 16 times (I counted) making non substantive changes so that it could be properly positioned.  It was an excrutiating process that sucked the life out of me.  It was outdated by the time it published.  Wasted rework.

I cannot stand rework. So, why do I love the design thinking iteration approach so much?  After all, at a distance people often mistaken iteration for rework too.

Iteration is not the same thing as rework.  In rework the learning is stagnant, whereas in iteration it is propelled by learning. Iteration is about being open to possibilities and learning new things and having those impact your ideas.  Rework is about doing the same thing again. Iteration is about evolving forward.

Design thinking is not about going back and doing the same thing again. It is about evolving forward from where we are right now.


Do something. Pay attention. Learn. Question. Hypothesize. Try something new. Pay attention. Learn…..and so forth. 

In iteration you don’t go back to zero you are always building on the collective knowledge formed to date. This knowledge is greater than where you started so you are alway moving forward.  Yes, you may go back to question your assumptions, but you return to that space with more knowledge and move forward.

Rework is about perfecting the thing as it was originally imagined.

Iteration is about learning and growing and continuing to imagine.

I think business needs less rework and more iteration. Don’t you?


Take Action

Take a look at the work you and your team are leading.  Are you in a learner’s mindset iterating or are you trying to perfect an old idea?  What must be true for you to iterate?  See what you can do to open up these possibilities for yourself and your team.

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