Creative compound interest

The value of consistent, continuous improvement

Today Maradona passed away. He’s rightly acclaimed as one of the finest footballers there has ever been. That kind of genius is a blessing, and in his case seemed to be something of a curse too, sadly.

But where does it leave the rest of us who don’t have such a gift?

I think our hope lies in incremental improvement. Of turning up every day and looking to find ways to do things better. Not holding out for major break-throughs, just looking to make small improvements, consistently. Dave Brailsford utterly changed British cycling with this ‘marginal gains’ mindset. Its power comes from the compound effect of all those small gains over time.

It’s also a big thing in software development — CI/CD — continuous integration and continuous deployment. It’s a pipeline that allows many small updates to be continuously made to a piece of software, rather than releasing many updates together in one package. It works because each release is small and discreet and easily testable, and if it fails it’s easy to locate and correct the error. Companies used to update their software several times a year, now it can now be many times in one day — the software improves rapidly and safely.

I think this approach can be taken to other types of work. Writing, painting, making films, anything. How can you set up a pipeline or a practice to ship small experiments with speed and regularity?

I like this way of looking at creativity because it’s not that hard to see where you can make small improvements, and it’s not that hard to do.

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