My friend Brendan (hi Brendan) once half joked that he’d like to have a couple kids, ”I think they’d make good side projects, you know?” (maybe he wasn’t joking at all, it’s hard to tell with that Aussie deadpan accent). I laughed out loud, and played along, “Oh yeah, totally, I can see that. But first you need to find a willing and able cofounder. ‘Cause it’d be pretty hard doing those side projects solo.”
Then we stared into space, each chasing our own thoughts. I’m not sure what Brendan was thinking, but maybe he, like I, was thinking about the design specs for a cofounder, personas, scenarios, and storyboarding how the sign-up workflow would go.
(You think I’m joking.)
(Ok, maybe I’m joking. Except for the sign-up workflow.)
But lately, this idea has been sitting in my head, what if we ran our relationships like a lean startup a la Eric Ries? After all, those of us in this tiny corner of the world who are obsessed with making Good Things are perpetually seeking, and iterating, on ways to build a better company, a better product, a better user experience.
Why couldn’t we do that with finding a romantic partner, a co-founder, who’s essential to the product development process? I mean, you don’t even have to want to procreate. A great relationship could be the source of happiness, contentment, inspiration, crying shoulder, etc. It could be *the* Good Thing springpad from which you build other Good Things.
Also, and this is an important point (imho), startups fail, a lot, often. Same with relationships. Everywhere I look, it’s almost like people are getting fries with a side of divorce.
“The goal of a startup is to figure out the right thing to build–the thing customers want and will pay for–as quickly as possible. In other words, the Lean Startup is a new way of looking at the development of innovative new products that emphasizes fast iteration and customer insight, a huge vision, and great ambition, all at the same time.”
In his book, Eric talks about the feedback loop process of driving a car, which happens so quickly that we don’t even register the fact that we’re constantly adjusting the steering wheel. He contrasted this with launching a rocket ship, which requires precise calibration from the get-go and leaves no room for error adjustment.
When I read about the steering wheel and the driver, I immediately thought about an exercise I did in my yoga training with Judith Hanson Lasater. You can do this too. Stand up, and close your eyes. You’ll notice that your body is constantly swaying, shifting back and forth and side to side. After having us observe and confirm this in our own bodies, Judith declared, “Standing is the constant adjustment of falling forward and backward.”
“Instead of making complex plans that are based on a lot of assumptions, you can make constant adjustments with a steering wheel called the Build-Measure-Learn feedback loop.”
Can BML be applied to relationships, or is my analogy totally perverse and asinine?