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  • Writer's pictureChris Danek

Mark Twain was a startup guy!

by Chris Danek

Mark Twain said, “Continous improvement is better than delayed perfection.” 

We keep this quote on our @Bessel office whiteboard. It inspires us to get our first ideas out fast—sketches, rough drafts, first-pass spreadsheets—and share them across the team. We call it Rev 0. No worries about formatting, grammar, or perfection. Just free-flowing ideas. It’s how we get the best individual work and team input.

This is a small and specific example. Continuous improvement is a big, big idea. Here are some ways to put this philosophy to work in your medical device startup.:

⦿ Actively develop your capability for rapid innovation with an improvement experiment during every design sprint.

⦿ Engage early and frequently with external stakeholders. 

⦿ Use timeboxing to challenge yourself to ideate quickly in a limited amount of time. Great for “Rev 0!”

Dig Deeper

See my article on a continuous learning mindset for rapid innovation. It's an input to a culture of continuous improvement.

Voltaire popularized the French proverb, “The perfect is the enemy of the good.” That’s a great spark for getting started (“Make It!”) but Twain’s compact quote also motivates iteration until your target is hit. How powerful is Twain’s quote? Numerous thought leaders have taken inspiration from this for personal, and professional development. 

And continuous Improvement is a core philosophy in quality and business that plays a key role in frameworks like human-centered design, agile teamwork, and lean. 

Human-Centered Design. Twain’s quote encapsulates these mindsets:  #MakeIt!, #LearnFromFailure, and #IterateIterateIterate

Agile Teamwork. Scrum implements Twain’s quote. Sprints are short, fixed time periods to deliver concrete value, The Retrospective after each Sprint identifies an improvement to test in the upcoming Sprint. The process repeats until the development goal is achieved.

Lean. Lean manufacturing principles have been applied to management, service delivery, and development. The Lean Enterprise Institute suggests starting where you are, with the people doing the work; running many small experiments to identify improvements; and scaling what works.

“Continuous improvement is better than delayed perfection.”

What quote inspires you and calls you to action?

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