July 25, 2023


A few months ago, I purchased a puzzle I couldn't resist. When I saw it, I knew I had to buy it. Why? One, I LOVE ice cream! Two, as a LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® trainer and facilitator, I love all things LEGO®! Three, I love playful, vibrant, creative imagery. 

The puzzle is called Ice Cream Dream by LEGO®. It's so fun and imaginative. I had to hang it on my wall.

But, me being me, I put the puzzle somewhere in my house when I got it and forgot where it was, until this weekend when I was cleaning up. 

I'm not an avid puzzler, but definitely enjoy the challenge and reward of putting puzzles together.

The puzzle is a 1,000 piece puzzle and I forgot just how overwhelming it is to start a puzzle when 1,000 pieces are looking at you.

My wife and I decided to build the perimeter first, so we'd have a starting point. Sounds easy, right?

For this puzzle, one side is all lime green; I thought it would be easy to put together. But I found myself looking at the pieces and they all looked the same. How could I figure out which one went where? 

I thought for a moment and realized the only way to do this as quickly as possible, is through rapid iteration. Rapid iteration is an innovation mindset I teach in my innovation training curriculum and recently one of my clients posted about his experience

Rapid iteration is cycling quickly between prototyping and testing in order to learn fast and get to the next level.

In my case, getting to the next level was connecting the puzzle pieces together. Rather than randomly putting the lime puzzle pieces together and hoping it would work out, I used this innovation mindset to do it. I would prototype and test one piece with connector pieces and rapidly cycle through testing that one piece with the only possible pieces that might connect with it until I found the right one. This approach worked really well and I learned quickly what pieces fit and what didn't in a very short time.

As I applied this mindset, I told my wife, I'm going to write a post about this because this shows the power of rapid iteration and why it's so important.

In innovation, we have a tendency to prototype and test too slowly. The cycle of learning is slow because the time it takes between prototype and test is too long. 

The faster and more often you test, the faster you learn. Then you can take those learnings, apply it to your prototype and test again. Rinse and repeat. It's simple and incredibly powerful. But, the reality is, we don't do this as often as we should and it's the reason why I developed the workshop on Rapid Iteration to help people grasp this concept in an experiential way.

The next time you're trying to figure something out, use rapid iteration as your ally. Decide to prototype and test quickly, like I did with my puzzle building and you'll be surprised how fast you learn and how much quicker the process will go.

The application of this innovation mindset also reminds me of a conversation I had with a well-known innovator and speaker from Google yesterday. Innovation mindsets can be applied by anyone to any thing. Regardless of what role you have or what job function you're in or what industry you work in, you can benefit from innovation mindsets. 

Innovation often gets a bad rap because people think it 'takes too long', but the truth is, when you start adopting innovation mindsets, it literally transforms how you think. And that doesn't take more time. It results in making thing better, more efficient, more creative... and it gives you mental agility to consider more possibilities and dream of new ways to solve problems. 

Innovation is a teachable mindset and skillsets anyone can learn!

If you'd like to bring rapid iteration or other innovation mindsets to your team, I'd love to help. Please email me and I'd love to help.

What are you taking away from today's article?

About the Author

Leo is a people and heart-first entrepreneur who believes everyone can be an innovator. An innovator himself, with 55 US patents and over 20 years of experience, Leo has come alongside organizations like Chick-fil-A and guided them to unleash the innovative potential of their employees by transforming them into confident innovators.

Leo’s friendly, joyful and enthusiastic demeanour makes the journey to innovation exciting and attainable. Leo’s also a LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® trainer & facilitator who believes unlocking innovation takes new approaches.

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