10x Mindset vs 2x Improvement
I love the Strategic Coach. Before I attended their workshops for three years, I listened to Dan Sullivan’s Pure Genius CDs dozens of times. I even had my kids listening to them, which they enjoyed.
Dan is the founder of Strategic Coach, and he’s the king of axioms. He’s also someone I could listen to all day. Dan is also the first person I ever heard mention the concept of 10x thinking or the 10x mindset.
Dan teaches that the 10x mindset is easier than 2x thinking. This is where I want to add my two cents.
The Distinctive Roles of 10x and 2x Thinking
In Dan’s world, he’ll ask his workshop participants to multiply last year’s sales by 10 times which will be achieved in the future. Like, David Schwartz, I believe in The Magic of Thinking Big too. Our brains have a difficult time distinguishing future perceptions from reality. That’s the beauty and magic of 10x thinking.
In Dan’s context, I have no issues with 10x versus 2x thinking. But he’s leaving out a powerful force of 2x thinking in the world of ongoing improvement.
Gedankenexperiment is the German term for a thought experiment, and I use scores of these in my consulting practice. One of my favorites is The Power of 2x Strategic Thinking™.
A combination of people like Deming, Ohno, Art Bryne, and several others inspired my 2x mental model. It has nothing to do with doubling sales, although that could be a likely outcome in one iteration of this mental model.
At least once during my first year working with a CEO, I find one of my client’s biggest pain or frustration points. The experiment starts with either doubling or cutting a key metric in one half where friction points exist in the business.
First responses almost always include, “That’s impossible.” I’ll get reason after reason why this will never work. And this comes from people who have read and are practicing a 10x mindset.
Accordingly, 2x thinking is about exacerbated continuous improvement. Below are some fascinating outcomes after applying 2x thought experiments:
- Increasing inventory turnover from 2.5 turns to 5.
- Cutting lead times from our largest vendor from 90 days to 45.
- Opening new QSR outlets in 60 days instead of 120.
- Increasing qualified leads in the weekly pipeline from 40 to 80.
- Doubling operating profit margin from 5% to 10%.
In the cases above, doubling or cutting in half is generally impossible. But here is something interesting that results from this exercise:
- We quit thinking incrementally
- We quit saying, “That’s how we’ve always done it,” and we start revisiting every step in a process that has waste that can be removed
- We start embracing constraints for what they are but use those to our advantage
- We see collaboration levels increasing because everyone enjoys trying to get better
- We ultimately obtain improvement, but at a much higher rate than if we were only thinking incrementally
10x and 2x Are Not the Same Mindsets
10x is about aspirations. Furthermore, Dan never uses the term metanoia, but that Greek word means a turning of the mind. Put another way, it’s changing our mind about who we are, and 10x thinking leads to that mind shift.
2x is about excellence, always. Also, we don’t 2x once, Instead, it becomes muscle memory as we apply this tool continually. And lookout. 2x can ultimately blow 10x out of the water. The Machine That Changed the World is replete with 2x thinking over a long period of time, and Toyota and its other Asian rivals brought its U.S. rivals to their knees through radical and ongoing improvement. A tiny brand that consumers once made fun of turned 2x thinking into a 100x outcome.
In short, don’t fall into the trap of thinking that 10x is bigger and better than 2x. Both mindsets serve different purposes. We want and need both.
Don’t believe me? Find and study the story behind Audi’s introduction of the diesel fuel-powered car at Le Mans.
Sorry, Dan. I’m right about 2x. But so are you on 10x.