The route to quality is through quantity

November 8, 2013 by Joshua
in Art, Blog, Creativity, Leadership, Tips

I read a story with a lesson for anyone who creates anything too helpful not to copy. As much as I didn’t want to copy something you can find elsewhere, I couldn’t stop myself. I hadn’t read it before so I hope it’s new to you. It’s from a book called Art and Fear on creating art, but you’ll find it useful for creating anything — products, beliefs, rules to live by, ways to motivate yourself and others, or whatever.


The ceramics teacher announced on opening day that he was dividing the class into two groups. All those on the left side of the studio, he said, would be graded solely on the quantity of work they produced, all those on the right solely on its quality. His procedure was simple: on the final day of class he would bring in his bathroom scales and weigh the work of the “quantity” group: fifty pound of pots rated an “A”, forty pounds a “B”, and so on. Those being graded on “quality”, however, needed to produce only one pot – albeit a perfect one – to get an “A”.

Well, came grading time and a curious fact emerged: the works of highest quality were all produced by the group being graded for quantity. It seems that while the “quantity” group was busily churning out piles of work – and learning from their mistakes – the “quality” group had sat theorizing about perfection, and in the end had little more to show for their efforts than grandiose theories and a pile of dead clay.

Whatever you do that you want to do well, do it more.

You might remember the number one property of leaders is that leaders ship. If you want to lead well, ship more. Keep shipping until you’ve made and learned from every mistake you can. Now you’ll ship whatever you ship better than anyone.

Want to achieve nothing? Think about how to do it and keep thinking.

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2 responses on “The route to quality is through quantity

  1. Pingback: How to never look back at your life with regret | Joshua Spodek

  2. Pingback: The Ethicist: Do I Have to Spring for My Kid to Go to an Elite College? | Joshua Spodek

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