Embracing the understanding and use of iterative cycles in growth is one of the principles of business design thinking. Why is applying the principle of iterative cycles important? Alistair Cockburn describes it as "learning by completing." An underlying principle of the iterative method is that until you build what you are designing, you will not fully understand it.

Many variants on the iterative process exist. But let's adopt a four-phase view to best illustrate how this business design thinking principle is an apt analogy of marketing initiatives for business growth to nature's seasons.

Let's examine the four "seasons" of business growth.

Spring: Explore

"Spring is the time of plans and projects." (Leo Tolstoy)

The Explore phase is analogous to spring time. This is the time of exploring new ideas, discovering what's possible. Marketers aspire to achieve great things with their initiatives and dream of how to accomplish it. A human-centered process moves you to begin with "Why?"

Spring is the time in nature when you take stock of what you have, where you have been, and then figure out what you will be cultivating in the next "season."

In this phase, assess your strengths and weaknesses in your team, processes, and systems. Hold planning sessions, and meet with fellow marketers as well as a diverse set of internal and external stakeholders to hear what they feel is attainable and realistic... and what activities should not be undertaken again. A great ideation session involves a cross-functional set of team members where you frame your marketing initiative as the question "How might we...?"

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Parker Lee is president of Compass52, a business design consultancy.

LinkedIn: Parker Lee