Getting better at bucket management

If you throw a bucket of water on a small campfire, you’ll succeed in putting it out.

Pour a bucketful of sake into one of those little glasses and you’ll waste most of it and ruin the table setting.

And try to use a bucket to refill a dried-out lake and not much will happen.

Relativity is everywhere we look. If you put in eight hours on a ten-hour project, you’ll fail. Put that much effort into a smaller, six-hour project and the client will be delighted.

The Grateful Dead remain one of the greatest bands in memory, partly because they relentlessly overfilled what was expected from a band. Those that seek to be the next Grateful Dead inevitably fail, because the standard has been reset.

On the other hand, a tech company that raises a lot of money to ‘change the world’ but merely delivers a really useful tool is seen as a failure.

The promise we make defines the quality that is expected. Market pressure and our own insecurity drive us to make ever bigger promises, but when the promise doesn’t match the deliverable, everyone forgets the effort and workmanship that was delivered.

The two challenges are:

Pick the right size bucket for the problem you’re trying to solve.

Make sure you have the resources to fill it all the way to the top.

Choose your bucket, choose your future.