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T�E ���D ��UF�
MA��� T���?
MA��� T���?
Strong
But Wrong
The art of making good mistakes
that lead to better work
Velocity Partners — Strong But Wrong 2
I don’t know about you, but I’m
seeing (and let’s be honest, making)
a lot of safe decisions lately.
Which isn’t great.
Ever since my actor training
days I’ve had a healthy aversion
to safe decisions.
Because...
Velocity Partners — Strong But Wrong 3
Safe decisions are very
rarely amazing decisions.
They’ll get you through
the day, but they won’t
blow any socks off.
Which poses an
interesting problem:
Velocity Partners — Strong But Wrong 4
In a world where every move
is analysed, every decision
mapped to a KPI:
How do you create an
environment where people
feel brave enough to blow
socks to smithereens?
Velocity Partners — Strong But Wrong 5
To make mistakes.
But not just
any mistakes,
good mistakes.
Velocity Partners — Strong But Wrong 6
How do you build
good failure into
your process?
Velocity Partners — Strong But Wrong 7
T�E ��S���
This is where two
concepts (that I’ve
stolen from other
disciplines and
smooshed together)
can provide the answer.
Velocity Partners — Strong But Wrong 8
The first:
Strong But Wrong.
In actor training when people are making
uninteresting choices, they’ll often be given
the note to go for something Strong But Wrong.
It basically means “Your safe choice isn’t working
so you might as well make a brave one,
even if it ends up being bad.”
Velocity Partners — Strong But Wrong 9
Take, for example, a scene where a guy
comes home from work, has a frosty
dinner with his wife then goes to bed.
You could play it that he’s tired, he’s had a long day, and he isn’t
finding his wife’s topic of conversation interesting. It’s not a bad
choice. It can be truthful, it’s just dull.
Alternatively you could play it that he’s had enough. Over the
course of the meal he considers quitting his job and leaving his
wife, but in playing it out in his head, realises that he wants to stay.
It’s the same lines, same scene, much braver choice.
Velocity Partners — Strong But Wrong 10
Nine times out of ten going for
Strong But Wrong leads to a better
choice. And the other one time
is both hilarious and freeing.
...which leads to a better choice.
Velocity Partners — Strong But Wrong 11
Now if you’re thinking “Great for the thesps,
how does this help me?” here’s where the
second concept comes into play.
Velocity Partners — Strong But Wrong 12
The second:
The Double Diamond
Velocity Partners — Strong But Wrong 13
You’re giving yourself no room to make any mistakes.
No room for bravery. No room for innovation.
Challenge Work Outcome
If you think the process of making
anything (a new product, a marketing
asset, a business decision) looks like this:
Velocity Partners — Strong But Wrong 14
Here’s what it should look like:
Any designers out there will probably be pretty familiar
with this already. It’s Design Council’s Double Diamond.
Challenge Outcome
D
eliver
D
evelop
Discover
D
efine
Velocity Partners — Strong But Wrong 15
Come up with
loads of ideas
Kill the bad
ones
Come up
with ideas for
developing the
good ones
Hone those
ideas into a
finished thing
Challenge Outcome
D
eliver
D
evelop
Discover
D
efine
Velocity Partners — Strong But Wrong 16
It’s a process of growing
and cutting back.
Flourishing and refining.
Velocity Partners — Strong But Wrong 17
It’s at this point where it doesn’t matter how terrible the idea
is. This is the point where someone can suggest the company
pivots to being a SaaS provider rather than a consultancy.
Where that ‘out there’ ad concept gets aired.
This is where Strong But Wrong can happen.
This bit is where
all the good
things happen.
Challenge Outcome
D
eliver
D
evelop
D
iscover
D
efine
Velocity Partners — Strong But Wrong 18
T�A� W���S
KE�� ��IN�
IT ��� L���
IN����S�I�G
Once you’ve built a
process where it’s
okay to be wrong, you’ll
suddenly find a whole
lot more right moves
are being made.
Velocity Partners — Strong But Wrong 19
And not just right.
Unique.
Unexpected.
Brilliant.
Velocity Partners — Strong But Wrong 20
GO�
�� �T
�O��
N
��E
��P�
�O
��
N��E��P
�
�O��
Like a gorilla playing
drums to advertise
chocolate.
Or pivoting from being
a podcasting app to
being Twitter.
Because bravery and
creativity lead to better
decision-making.
Velocity Partners — Strong But Wrong 21
Which can only happen
if there’s room to be
Strong But Wrong.
Velocity Partners — Strong But Wrong 22
Now the magic of this system is that
it can be scaled up or down depending
on what you’re working on:
Velocity Partners — Strong But Wrong 23
W�A� W���� IT
LO�� ��KE �� ��WA� ��N��?
HO� ���L� I� W��� �S:AN����ED, ���C� ��T� �O,FI���D, ���KI�� H����.W�A� W���� HA���NIF �� ��S �O�D ���M ���PO��� �F �I�� �FT�E ��F���RE?
IS �� ��E L��� V��E�?
OR ��� S���T O���?
HO� ���L� E��H ���K?
Working on a video?
Divide your day into chunks so you’ve got
some time dedicated to brave thinking.
It’s a video about robotic process
automation. Great.
Velocity Partners — Strong But Wrong 24
W�A� �T��� TO���L� ��RE����D
IN���T��E� S����R ��OM
SI����R ��OB���S? ��OT���G?
WI��? ��T? �I�K���?
W�A� �T��� US��
CO��� T�� �AB��
TE��N����Y �A��?
HO� ���UT ����G
TA���N��� FO��� �N�
RE����D �I�H�� FO�
RE��-��R�� GA���G? Deciding on a new vertical
to attack?
Allocate a set period of a few days for ‘out
there’ suggestions from the team.
Your company makes holographic labels
that help reduce counterfeit prescription
drugs being sold. Cool.
Velocity Partners — Strong But Wrong 25
Make bravery a part of
your process, and you
stop beating yourself
up for wasting time
on ideas that aren’t
going anywhere.
Velocity Partners — Strong But Wrong 26
And suddenly those
KPIs and analytics stop
being scary.
They become a superpower.
(Which they were always
supposed to be anyway)
Velocity Partners — Strong But Wrong 27
Because not only are better ideas
being generated, but you can prove
that they’re better ideas.
And if they’re not better ideas?It’s not
an issue. They were Strong But Wrong.
And you’ve got plenty more where
they came from.
Velocity Partners — Strong But Wrong 28
Ready to try it for
yourself?Cool.
Velocity Partners — Strong But Wrong 29
Go forth.
Be brave.
Make mistakes.
Have fun.
Report back.

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Strong but wrong

  • 1. Words by Andrew London, Design by Matt Roundell T�E ���D ��UF� MA��� T���? MA��� T���? Strong But Wrong The art of making good mistakes that lead to better work
  • 2. Velocity Partners — Strong But Wrong 2 I don’t know about you, but I’m seeing (and let’s be honest, making) a lot of safe decisions lately. Which isn’t great. Ever since my actor training days I’ve had a healthy aversion to safe decisions. Because...
  • 3. Velocity Partners — Strong But Wrong 3 Safe decisions are very rarely amazing decisions. They’ll get you through the day, but they won’t blow any socks off. Which poses an interesting problem:
  • 4. Velocity Partners — Strong But Wrong 4 In a world where every move is analysed, every decision mapped to a KPI: How do you create an environment where people feel brave enough to blow socks to smithereens?
  • 5. Velocity Partners — Strong But Wrong 5 To make mistakes. But not just any mistakes, good mistakes.
  • 6. Velocity Partners — Strong But Wrong 6 How do you build good failure into your process?
  • 7. Velocity Partners — Strong But Wrong 7 T�E ��S��� This is where two concepts (that I’ve stolen from other disciplines and smooshed together) can provide the answer.
  • 8. Velocity Partners — Strong But Wrong 8 The first: Strong But Wrong. In actor training when people are making uninteresting choices, they’ll often be given the note to go for something Strong But Wrong. It basically means “Your safe choice isn’t working so you might as well make a brave one, even if it ends up being bad.”
  • 9. Velocity Partners — Strong But Wrong 9 Take, for example, a scene where a guy comes home from work, has a frosty dinner with his wife then goes to bed. You could play it that he’s tired, he’s had a long day, and he isn’t finding his wife’s topic of conversation interesting. It’s not a bad choice. It can be truthful, it’s just dull. Alternatively you could play it that he’s had enough. Over the course of the meal he considers quitting his job and leaving his wife, but in playing it out in his head, realises that he wants to stay. It’s the same lines, same scene, much braver choice.
  • 10. Velocity Partners — Strong But Wrong 10 Nine times out of ten going for Strong But Wrong leads to a better choice. And the other one time is both hilarious and freeing. ...which leads to a better choice.
  • 11. Velocity Partners — Strong But Wrong 11 Now if you’re thinking “Great for the thesps, how does this help me?” here’s where the second concept comes into play.
  • 12. Velocity Partners — Strong But Wrong 12 The second: The Double Diamond
  • 13. Velocity Partners — Strong But Wrong 13 You’re giving yourself no room to make any mistakes. No room for bravery. No room for innovation. Challenge Work Outcome If you think the process of making anything (a new product, a marketing asset, a business decision) looks like this:
  • 14. Velocity Partners — Strong But Wrong 14 Here’s what it should look like: Any designers out there will probably be pretty familiar with this already. It’s Design Council’s Double Diamond. Challenge Outcome D eliver D evelop Discover D efine
  • 15. Velocity Partners — Strong But Wrong 15 Come up with loads of ideas Kill the bad ones Come up with ideas for developing the good ones Hone those ideas into a finished thing Challenge Outcome D eliver D evelop Discover D efine
  • 16. Velocity Partners — Strong But Wrong 16 It’s a process of growing and cutting back. Flourishing and refining.
  • 17. Velocity Partners — Strong But Wrong 17 It’s at this point where it doesn’t matter how terrible the idea is. This is the point where someone can suggest the company pivots to being a SaaS provider rather than a consultancy. Where that ‘out there’ ad concept gets aired. This is where Strong But Wrong can happen. This bit is where all the good things happen. Challenge Outcome D eliver D evelop D iscover D efine
  • 18. Velocity Partners — Strong But Wrong 18 T�A� W���S KE�� ��IN� IT ��� L��� IN����S�I�G Once you’ve built a process where it’s okay to be wrong, you’ll suddenly find a whole lot more right moves are being made.
  • 19. Velocity Partners — Strong But Wrong 19 And not just right. Unique. Unexpected. Brilliant.
  • 20. Velocity Partners — Strong But Wrong 20 GO� �� �T �O�� N ��E ��P� �O �� N��E��P � �O�� Like a gorilla playing drums to advertise chocolate. Or pivoting from being a podcasting app to being Twitter. Because bravery and creativity lead to better decision-making.
  • 21. Velocity Partners — Strong But Wrong 21 Which can only happen if there’s room to be Strong But Wrong.
  • 22. Velocity Partners — Strong But Wrong 22 Now the magic of this system is that it can be scaled up or down depending on what you’re working on:
  • 23. Velocity Partners — Strong But Wrong 23 W�A� W���� IT LO�� ��KE �� ��WA� ��N��? HO� ���L� I� W��� �S:AN����ED, ���C� ��T� �O,FI���D, ���KI�� H����.W�A� W���� HA���NIF �� ��S �O�D ���M ���PO��� �F �I�� �FT�E ��F���RE? IS �� ��E L��� V��E�? OR ��� S���T O���? HO� ���L� E��H ���K? Working on a video? Divide your day into chunks so you’ve got some time dedicated to brave thinking. It’s a video about robotic process automation. Great.
  • 24. Velocity Partners — Strong But Wrong 24 W�A� �T��� TO���L� ��RE����D IN���T��E� S����R ��OM SI����R ��OB���S? ��OT���G? WI��? ��T? �I�K���? W�A� �T��� US�� CO��� T�� �AB�� TE��N����Y �A��? HO� ���UT ����G TA���N��� FO��� �N� RE����D �I�H�� FO� RE��-��R�� GA���G? Deciding on a new vertical to attack? Allocate a set period of a few days for ‘out there’ suggestions from the team. Your company makes holographic labels that help reduce counterfeit prescription drugs being sold. Cool.
  • 25. Velocity Partners — Strong But Wrong 25 Make bravery a part of your process, and you stop beating yourself up for wasting time on ideas that aren’t going anywhere.
  • 26. Velocity Partners — Strong But Wrong 26 And suddenly those KPIs and analytics stop being scary. They become a superpower. (Which they were always supposed to be anyway)
  • 27. Velocity Partners — Strong But Wrong 27 Because not only are better ideas being generated, but you can prove that they’re better ideas. And if they’re not better ideas?It’s not an issue. They were Strong But Wrong. And you’ve got plenty more where they came from.
  • 28. Velocity Partners — Strong But Wrong 28 Ready to try it for yourself?Cool.
  • 29. Velocity Partners — Strong But Wrong 29 Go forth. Be brave. Make mistakes. Have fun. Report back.