Ooch before you leap
Ooch, a soup of scoot and inch, is an approach to incremental testing that I learned about in the book Decisive. You design small bets, acquire high-quality information, and test hypotheses on how things should be done. The process helps you work out what it takes without letting you go all in on a big decision on paltry information or untested assumptions.
In my early career I was an academic editor 📝 We had brutal standards for edit quality 🔍 Every piece of edited content would be evaluated by a metric called Errors Per Thousand Words. This led to hair-splitting over a missing comma, or an extra one.
This was the first time in my life that anyone was paying me for my language skills, so I took this practice to heart. And it stayed with me.
When I started posting content on LinkedIn last year, I fished the practice out from the archives and copy-pasted it. I would follow a two, sometimes three-step process for each piece. I carried this worn-out idea of what passed as quality and I delivered on that.
At some point, I questioned whom I was optimizing for and whom I should optimize for. Then I changed up. I started optimizing for the reader without letting my standards drop like a rock. I wrote in one shot (almost). No one complained. I got time to produce more content and even try my hand at sketches and videos, channels that opened up more feedback loops.
Ooching works best in situations where we need more information, but it is reassuring to tell ourselves we already know all there’s to know.
𝐔𝐧𝐥𝐞𝐬𝐬 𝐰𝐞 𝐬𝐚𝐧𝐢𝐭𝐲-𝐭𝐞𝐬𝐭 𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐚𝐬𝐬𝐮𝐦𝐩𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧𝐬, 𝐰𝐞 𝐰𝐢𝐥𝐥 𝐧𝐨𝐭 𝐤𝐧𝐨𝐰 𝐰𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐰𝐞 𝐝𝐨𝐧’𝐭 𝐤𝐧𝐨𝐰. The quality, quantity, and speed of feedback matter. And they vary across professions. A firefighter is instantly punished or rewarded, but a business leader gets feedback that is delayed and mixed up with ten other things. That’s why a firefighter’s practice is a lot more deliberate than a business leader’s.