Discover more from Rami’s Readings
Rami's Readings #9
Focus on Virgil Abloh, 3% Rule for Creativity, AI, and more.
Welcome to Rami’s Readings #9 - a weekly digest of interesting articles, videos, Twitter threads from my various sources across the Internet. Expect a list of reads covering technology, business, culture, fashion, travel and more. Learn about what I do at ramisayar.com/about.
Are you enjoying this newsletter?
If yes, I have a favor to ask you. If you know someone else who would benefit, please forward or share it with them!
If you received this newsletter from a friend, subscribe here to get the next one.
🎨 Culture Reads - Focusing on Virgil Abloh
Many of you will be surprised, but Virgil Abloh greatly impacted me. I am not going to lie. I was devastated when he passed away from rare heart cancer. How did a fashion designer impact my tech career? It boils down to Virgil’s 3% rule, which he describes in an article in Domus (two months before he passed away). The percentage of creativity required to innovate is 3%.
3%. It’s a theory. Developed in practice. Evolved over time.
- Virgil Abloh
This statement taught me that you could avoid constantly chasing step-function changes to be innovative. You only need to change something by about 3%. If you have ever suffered from a creative block, thinking about innovating something by 3% puts significantly less mental strain than trying to revolutionize something completely. Incrementally changing something by 3% is also a repeatable strategy. You can become innovative without needing a fleeting moment of profound genius. And you can be methodical about being innovative, making you prolific. Being prolific is especially valuable in a corporate environment where a record of success improves your long-term career trajectory and the likelihood of promotion.
The 3% ideology has its advantages. It recalls an eye-to-emotion connection in the brain and adds an alternate voice. 3% expands our world view, without pushing our zones of comfort to the brink. We’re exposed to “new”, but not eccentric or disconcerting.
- Virgil Abloh
For my intrapreneurial colleagues innovating in large companies, this statement is profound. You want to pitch new ideas that will challenge the established norms. However, if you use the 3% ideology to your advantage, your likelihood of success in getting the funding or executive approval or whatever you are seeking will be greater. Why? Because a 3% change is close enough to what is known and comfortable to invoke a familiar and accepting reaction. Your innovation pitch will not be immediately rejected for deviating too far from the norm.
How do I use the 3% rule?
I will spill a secret that I have used to pitch innovation projects on repeat. I hope my boss doesn't see this, but I know he will because he is a subscriber. When I pitch a new idea at work, I pitch three variations. The first variation is a 1% change, just tweaking something we are already doing to be better. Whomever I am pitching to will often accept it as a natural evolution and generally react with "of course, we should do this," or, depending on the personality, "why aren't we already doing this?". At which point, I'll say: "but wait, we can do better." Now, your audience is primed for change. For the next step, I will pitch an actual step-function change - changing something by at least 50%. I know the change will be instantly rejected. If it isn't instantly rejected, I need to be more ambitious! After this, I will bring the conversation back to a change that is about 3% in the direction of the long-term change that I believe improves the product or process. (Sometimes, I will alter the order depending on the audience). That 3% change is now reasonable, has that eye-to-emotion connection Virgil talks about, and is likely more likely to be accepted. This pitch formula is one of my strategies for funding new projects.
I leave with you inspiring words from Virgil (2020).
🤖💼 AI & Business Reads
Notes: Provocative new paper on arXiv.
I wrote a disclosure for this newsletter in #7. Please consider reading it.
Thanks for reading Rami’s Readings! Subscribe for free to receive new posts.