There’s a concept in software development known as a sandbox. It’s a simulation of your production environment where you can perform development work and test out new ideas. I think this can be replicated on a broader scale to almost every industry.
I think we should always be trying out new methods. It doesn’t matter whether you’re talking about software development, marketing or business in general; things seem to keep changing all of the time. In order to adapt to those changes and thrive, as leaders, we have to continue to make course corrections, adjustments or even completely new ventures to keep the ball moving forward.
I come from five generations of carpenters and the phrase “measure twice, cut once” was drilled into my brain from the time I was old enough to hold a hammer. I also learned the value of practicing on small projects before attempting a large project. A sandbox gives leaders the space they need to try projects on a small scale without impacting the business until success has been proven for that method.
Inside the sandbox, we learn what works and, more importantly, what doesn’t. We sometimes uncover challenges that we had not considered previously. The sandbox gives us the opportunity to demonstrate concepts that might be difficult for others to grasp without visuals. This allows for additional input from our trusted advisors for consideration in our decision marking process.
Much like a brainstorming session, we should feel free to try projects at will. Even though many ideas fail, they may lead you to another idea that you would never have thought of had you not gone through the experience of the first idea. Much like an inventor, failure should not be considered to be a negative, but rather another step on the journey of reaching the destination of a solution.
Naturally, some ideas are unable to be presented on a small scale. Some concepts need the ability to reach critical mass before they will ever grow legs. In cases such as this though, one might be to segment various steps of the overall process and put those in the sandbox for testing and evaluation to help minimize risk on the overall project.
The sandbox can be a wonderful tool for leaders to test new concepts on a small scale with minimal risk and investment before launching projects on a broader scale. It is only through experimentation and innovation that we continue to grow and achieve our goals in today’s changing environments.