Most clients I’ve worked with have a flyer with the image of a triangle and each side of the triangle labeled, “Faster. Cheaper. Better.”

It’s an awful triangle.

The three items are opposing forces. Moving more quickly inevitably leads to mistakes. Cheaper products are flimsy. And better output is almost always meaningfully developed. It may as well be an equation that reads “1+2=Cake” instead.

It’s definitely not cake.

Yet, corporate America has declared this its battle cry and the souls of millions of Americans continue down a faster, cheaper, but better decline into despair.

Can better be achieved through faster and cheaper methods? One of the philosophies of design thinking is to fail fast. Develop a prototype and test it in order to learn. Doing so is faster, cheaper and you learn more quickly than waiting for your product to be completely perfect.

Is this what the “Faster. Cheaper. Better.” triangle has been geometrically hinting at all along?

I don’t think so but I think it does reveal a new way to think about the triangle. The reason the design thinking methodology works is because the point isn’t to produce a better product but a better prototype which leads to a better product. It can be faster, cheaper and better if you’re defining exactly what needs to be fast, what needs to be cheap and what ultimately needs to be better.

With this in mind, I began thinking about Design Sprints as described in Jake Knapp’s book Sprint. These are week long (maybe week short) intense sessions structured to move a team from idea to discussion to design to testing to feedback all within a week. It’s fast. Really fast. But also really effective because the idea isn’t to test something perfect. The idea is to test the idea of something perfect.

While Jake’s work is often in product design, I thought about how these principle apply to marketing. I modified Knapp’s process to focus on the steps required to develop and test draft positioning statements in one week. It works pretty well and I think it could be useful to clients – especially those trapped in the Bermuda triangle of “Faster. Cheaper. Better.”

Want to learn more about it? Send me a note and let’s chat.

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