2 min read

Foundations and Improvisation

“To succeed, planning alone is insufficient. One must improvise as well.”
Isaac Asimov, Foundation

If you've spent any time with me you'll know I'm always trying to simplify complexity. That's why I find frameworks, models and systems so fascinating. They can be really useful tools for finding patterns and highlighting useful, simple stuff.

On the flip side, simple rules can generate a lot of complexity. DNA, morse code and binary all have very simple foundations, but from those basic patterns, a whole Universe of complexity emerges. Simple rules are a great foundation once you've identified them, but when working with the subsequent complexity, a degree of improvisation is necessary.

Recently I've been thinking about this in the context of business ideas. The pandemic has seen large numbers of people start doing things for themselves rather than for an employer. Call them solopreneurs, entrepreneurs, founders, micro-business, personal enterprises or simply self-employed. It's never been a more attractive way of life, nor a more plausible one.

Given that the choices a "solopreneur" makes have such a critical bearing on the pattern of their future life, how are they to decide what to focus on?

Brian Clark of Future Freedom proposes a simple foundation to help kick off the improvisation: Skill+Interest=Idea.

I've discovered a variety of similar approaches recently, from a number of inspiring sources. I've been taking the best bits and combining them in a simple, practical set of steps that anyone can follow, as long as they have an internet connection. I'm not finished with it yet, as there's more simplification I want to do, but I'll share it in the next newsletter. If you're interested in chatting about it, though, feel free to reply to this email.


Method in the Madness

Here are some things you might find interesting...

The Simplification of Jobs-to-be-Done
Mike Boysen is a well-known practitioner of JTBD so I found his recent article really useful and refreshing. In the spirit of making JTBD simple and useful, I encourage people to use "5 whys" to get to a higher level, timeless JTBD. In this article, Mike talks about why he's now doing the same thing.

LetterHunt
I like LetterHunt for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it's a really useful directory of newsletters. You might be interested in learning more about a particular subject or looking for partnerships or places to promote your own stuff. LetterHunt makes that easy. Secondly, it was a doddle to make. A good example of what can be achieved easily with no-code tools (in this case Airtable and Softr).

How to perform a competitor analysis (with free GSheet)
I like this framework from Buffer because it's a really simple, structured way of conducting a competitor analysis. You've probably seen the occasional 12,000 slide competitor review from an agency, stuffed full of screengrabs and subjectivity. This is not that. They even provide a useful, free, GSheet you can use.