Isaac Newton, Productivity and Small Tests of Change
Last week, Tim Herrera in the New York Times (here) pushed the idea of ‘just get started’ when faced by a task. He linked his article to a blog post by James Clear, “The Physics of Productivity: Newton’s Laws of Getting Stuff Done”. Clear uses Newton’s three laws of motion to illustrate principles for being productive—doing the right work, effectively.
‘Just Get Started’ matches the improvement advice to carry out a very small test when you have a change idea: what can you do today to try out the idea?
Herrera and Clear suggest that even getting ready to do the test—for example, choosing one provider, one patient, one encounter and setting a time for a test to run later this afternoon—has benefits in priming your brain to want to finish the task, the “Ovsiankina effect” named after early 20th century psychologist Maria Ovsiankina.
Back to Newton.
Newton’s First Law says “a body in motion tends to stay in motion; a body at rest tends to stay at rest”.
Applied to testing, Newton’s First Law seem to match my experience: people testing changes tend to continue testing and learning; people who don’t test, tend to not to make changes.
You can make a habit of testing and active learning by repeat cycles of testing. Herrera and Clear advise you to get in motion to start building that habit: plan a small change and carry out a test today.