The Iteration Cycle

Aug 28, 2023


The Iteration Cycle

I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.


Nobody—no matter how smart or talented they are—gets it right the first time.

For proof, consider any artistic masterpiece. Beneath the finished surface of the Mona Lisa, you’ll find layer upon layer of draft sketches, false starts, and major alterations. The ceiling of the Sistine Chapel is covered with hundreds of millions of very small brushstrokes, each of which brought the resulting masterpiece one step closer to completion. It took Michelangelo millions of hammer strokes to turn a crude block of marble into the David.

The Iteration Cycle is a process you can use to make anything better over time. There’s nothing wasteful about the inevitable changes and revisions that these artists made to their creations: every iteration brought the project one step closer to completion.

Iteration has six major steps, which I call the WIGWAM method:

1. Watch—What’s happening? What’s working and what’s not?

2. Ideate—What could you improve? What are your options?

3. Guess—Based on what you’ve learned so far, which of your ideas

do you think will make the biggest impact?

4. Which?—Decide which change to make.

5. Act—Actually make the change.

6. Measure—What happened? Was the change positive or negative?

Should you keep the change, or go back to how things were before this iteration?

Iteration is a cycle—once you measure the results of the change and decide whether or not to keep it, you go back to the beginning to observe what’s happening, and the cycle repeats.

For best results, clearly define what you’re trying to accomplish with each iteration. Are you trying to make the offering more attractive or appealing? Are you trying to add a new feature people will value? Are you trying to make the offering cost less without detracting from its value?

The more clearly you can define what you’re after, the easier it’ll be to understand the Feedback you’re receiving and the more value you’ll extract from each Iteration Cycle.