Another compelling way to think about investing your “100 marbles” is to ask, “If we were starting this company (or rock band, or non-profit, or department, or marriage) from scratch, how would we build it?”
This question is markedly different from the question, “How would we change our marble allocation to improve results?” The starting from scratch question offers the metaphor of a clean slate – a blank page – a new beginning.
It forces us reexamine the questions, “What’s the point of our company (or non-profit, etc.) anyway? What are we trying to accomplish? And what are the proven, leading-edge methods for accomplishing this?” Rather than thinking about merely adjusting current strategy, staffing, and spending (which implies incremental improvement), the starting from scratch question liberates us to choose an entirely different tack – or an entirely different goal.
Thinking about adjustments tethers us to the current reality (“Add a part-time staff member; Spend 30 more minutes per day talking with customers; Increase the marketing budget”). But talking about starting from scratch unhinges us from the current budget, the current staffing model, and all of our current routines. We can ask, “How would we staff our organization to achieve optimum results?” and “What kinds of people would we hire?” and “What would these people spend most of their time doing?”
And the answers might require us not to simply “add a sax player,” but to fire everybody in the band and hire new musicians — at least one of whom can drive the band’s bus to out-of-town gigs…
(note: You can read my original “100 Marbles” article at Lifehack.org by clicking here)