Can setting a quota, help you accomplish more? It worked for Thomas Edison. In Thinkertoys: A Handbook of Creative-Thinking Techniques (2nd Edition), Michael Michalko writes about how Edison used quotas to improve his results.
Thomas Edison’s Personal Invention Quotas
“Thomas Edison held 1,093 patents. He was a great believer in exercising his mind and the minds of his workers and felt that without a quota he probably wouldn’t have achieved very much. His personal invention quote was a minor invention every ten days and a major invention every six months. To Edison, an idea quota was the difference between eating beefstake or a plateful of Black Beauty stew.”
Key Take Aways
Quotas are a powerful tool for improvement. For example, if you want to change a particular behavior, count the number of times you perform that behavior each day.
Once you set a benchmark, you can tune it. If you first get in your quantity, you can then get in your quality. For example, I wanted to comment more in blogs. First, I decided I would comment in five blogs a day, while I ramp up. Next, once I found my rhythm, I decided to focus on efficiency. From there, I can either improve the quality of my comments, or increase my quota.
I haven’t applied quotas to creating ideas. I already have a large backlog. Instead, I’m considering quotas to implement my ideas.