Incremental improvements and big bets

Dave Paola

I was reading Auren Hoffman’s Step Functions and One-percent Improvements and remembered a key piece of advice we received early at Bloc. I can’t remember who told us, but it was:

Every project is either an incremental improvement or a big bet. You need both.

I think about this a lot during roadmapping exercises or strategic planning.

Some examples of incremental improvements:

  • Find your customer’s pricing ceiling by methodically raising prices until you see a drop-off in conversion rates
  • Take the website’s load time from 350ms to 200ms
  • Address student delinquency by checking in with them more frequently
  • Increase customer satisfaction by investing in continuous improvement of the curriculum

Some examples of big bets:

  • Launch a 2-year long Software Engineering Track
  • Move from a contract role for your instructors to a full time and part time employment role
  • Redesign the marketing website from the ground up
  • Provide customers with a tuition reimbursement guarantee

By investing in each of these buckets proportionally you can optimize your chances of growth. Of course it also influences who you hire and what your org structure evolves into.

I’ll let you guess which one of these worked and which didn’t!

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