What is firing bullets?


"Firing bullets" refers to a concept mentioned by Jim Collins, emphasizing the idea of experimenting with small initiatives or ideas to test their viability before committing significant resources. This metaphor signifies incrementally testing and refining ideas until one proves to have substantial potential, at which point it can be scaled up, metaphorically firing a "cannonball." This approach helps in validating concepts empirically before making larger, riskier investments.

Collins uses the example of Apple's development of the iPod to illustrate this process. Initially, Apple didn't realize the full potential of the iPod but started with small, manageable experiments. Only after these "bullets" showed promise and were validated empirically did they shift into a larger commitment, which significantly shaped the company's future success 1.

Firing Bullets

Jim discusses the importance of firing bullets in innovation, and how it's crucial to realize that not every bullet will become a cannonball. He emphasizes the need to fire enough bullets to have some discovery, and to fire them well. The iPod is used as an example of a small bullet that eventually became a huge cannonball for Apple.

The Knowledge Project

Jim Collins — Good to Great — The Knowledge Project #67