Quantity Predicts Quality

From Weekly I/O#27

When it comes to idea generation, quantity is the most predictable path to quality.

Book: Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World

In the book, Adam Grant said, it's widely assumed that there's a tradeoff between quantity and quality. In other words, if you want to do better work, you have to do less of it. However, he thinks this is false since people who produced masterpieces, like Shakespeare, Mozart, or Einstein, actually produced tons of work that didn't have much impact.

In the book Art & Fear, the authors also shared a story that supports this concept. In a film photography class at the University of Florida, the professor divided students into two groups: quantity group and quality group. The former group would be graded only on the number of photos submitted by each student, whereas the latter group would be graded solely on the excellence of the photos.

At the end of the term, the professor found out that all the best photos were from the quantity groups. Since the quantity groups were busying taking photos, testing and experimenting with all kinds of methods, they learned from mistakes and honed their skills. Meanwhile, the quality group spent most of the time speculating about perfection. In the end, they more tend to have only unverified theories and mediocre photos because of their perfectionism. You can also find the whole story at Why Trying to Be Perfect Won't Help You Achieve Your Goals (And What Will) from Atomic Habits.

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