The Law of Requisite Variety

the Law of Requisite Variety. This is a law described by cybernetician Ross Ashby which perfectly describes the creative entrepreneur. Basically, the law says that in any system (company, department, a meeting) all things being equal, the individual with the widest range of responses (the most ideas) will control the system. To me this means that the gift or trick is in promoting plenty of ideas, fast and furiously.

Attribute #94 from  A Complete List of 100 Attributes of People Who Start Companies:How You Can Be One of America’s Entrepreneurs.

We tried an experiment with one of our customers and here is what happened.

  1. I asked all the participants (there were about 14 excluding me) to take 15 minutes and write down as many ideas as they can, for incremental improvement of their product.
  2. At the end of 15 minutes, we had contributions from every one (the lowest number  was 6 and the highest was 68).
  3. We asked each person to read out one idea.
  4. We wrote the idea on a white board and asked others to come up with derivative ideas.
  5. By the time we went through 14 ideas (one from each participant) we had more than 100 ideas.

I was just moderating and found that  every one was totally engaged. It gave us some very good starting points.

The process is quantity first, then quality. Lots of people can sift and sort ideas, criticizing and developing. Your job is to get the most ideas on the table, from you or others.