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« The Tolstoy Rule | Main | Treat different customers differently (part 2 of my visit to Apple) »

Don't Shave That Yak!

The single best term I've learned this year.

Apparently turned into a computer term by the MIT media lab five years ago, yak shaving was recently referenced by my pal Joi Ito. (Link: Joi Ito's Web: Yak Shaving)

I want to give you the non-technical definition, and as is my wont, broaden it a bit.

Yak Shaving is the last step of a series of steps that occurs when you find something you need to do. "I want to wax the car today."

"Oops, the hose is still broken from the winter. I'll need to buy a new one at Home Depot."

"But Home Depot is on the other side of the Tappan Zee bridge and getting there without my EZPass is miserable because of the tolls."

"But, wait! I could borrow my neighbor's EZPass..."

"Bob won't lend me his EZPass until I return the mooshi pillow my son borrowed, though."

"And we haven't returned it because some of the stuffing fell out and we need to get some yak hair to restuff it."

And the next thing you know, you're at the zoo, shaving a yak, all so you can wax your car.

This yak shaving phenomenon tends to hit some people more than others, but what makes it particularly perverse is when groups of people get involved. It's bad enough when one person gets all up in arms yak shaving, but when you try to get a group of people together, you're just as likely to end up giving the yak a manicure.

Which is why solo entrepreneurs and small organizations are so much more likely to get stuff done. They have fewer yaks to shave.

So, what to do?

Don't go to Home Depot for the hose.

The minute you start walking down a path toward a yak shaving party, it's worth making a compromise. Doing it well now is much better than doing it perfectly later.

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Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Don't Shave That Yak!:

» Now is better than perfect from Humanize the Earth!
Couldn't resist the priceless last line from Seth's Blog: Don't Shave That Yak!: Doing it well now is much better than doing it perfectly later. If you agree, please go read the explanation at Seth's site. [Read More]

» Act Now ... put differently by Seth Godin from Behind the Scenes
Being a Social Entrepreneur and leveraing High Performance Teams is all about speed ... acting now. I was just bouncing through Seth Godin's blog and he has found an expression that too many non-profit orgs can probably related to in... [Read More]

» Shaved a yak lately? from face2face
Seth Godin has a great post about a phenomenon I'm all too familiar with, though I had no idea there was a name for it: Yak shaving. As Seth explains it, it's when you need to do one thing, say, [Read More]

» I'm a Chronic Yak Shaver from ScottKidder.com
Okay, I admit it. I'm a chronic yak shaver. You're probably a chronic yak shaver too. Here's how Seth Godin describes it: Yak Shaving is the last step of a series of steps that occurs when you find something you... [Read More]

» The Time is never right, do it now anyway. from Engineer2Entrepreneur
Link: Seth's Blog: Don't Shave That Yak!. "A good plan violently executed now is better than a perfect plan executed next week." -George S. Patton There is no such things as the perfect time to do something. There is always [Read More]

» Yak Shaving from False Positives
And what do you get when you shave a Yak? Sometimes it Yak's all the way down! Which is different from "Yak Combing"... [Read More]

» Yak Shaving from Smarter Stuff
Seth Godin does it again. [Read More]

» Yak Shaving from Sagamoric Musings
Are you a “yak shaver”? Seth's Blog: Don't Shave That Yak! Do you Yak Shave? It's a bad habit and one you should learn to break. (categories: productivity, groupblogs)... [Read More]

» links for 2005-03-10 from magpiebrain
Don’t Shave That Yak! You really don’t need the Yak hair (categories: productivity) Joi Ito on Yak Shaving (categories: productivity) Slim Devices unveils new rev with Squeezebox2 I wanted the first one, and I really want this one. (catego... [Read More]

» Yak shaving considered harmful from Ninja Monkeys!
"Don't shave that yak!" I know lots of IT people who enjoy shaving yaks. Instead of solving a problem, they spend ages building tools to solve the problem for them, but never actually manage to solve the original problem. In fact, they get so bogged do... [Read More]

» Shaving the Yak: More on Organization from Next Level Biz Tips
I was pointed to an excellent post on Seth Godin's blog by a post on BL Ochman's fine blog. Don't Shave That Yak! [Read More]

» shavin' yak from Coreyh.com
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» Anecdote circles and yak shaving from Anecdote: complexity - narrative - knowledge
Seth Godin believes ‘Yak Shaving’ is the single best phrase he’s learned this year. It describes those situations when you are extremely sidetracked when trying to get something done. Here is the yak shaving incide... [Read More]

» Anecdote circles and yak shaving from Anecdote: complexity - narrative - knowledge
Seth Godin believes ‘Yak Shaving’ is the single best phrase he’s learned this year. It describes those situations when you are extremely sidetracked when trying to get something done. Here is the yak shaving incide... [Read More]

» John Carmack explores mobile game dev from Robert Burke's weblog
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» "Stop Estimating", indeed! from James E. Lee's Blog
I'm often asked to estimate time & effort required to get a task done.  The problem is, the work I ... [Read More]

» Yak shaving from HMK's Spurious Thoughts
Of course, I'm the very last one to get it, but it looks like yak shaving is a really useful phrase. Seth Godin explain the concept in great detail.... [Read More]

» Yak shaving from HMK's Spurious Thoughts
Of course, I'm the very last one to get it, but it looks like yak shaving is a really useful phrase. Seth Godin explain the concept in great detail.... [Read More]

» Best mp3 portals from MP3 Portals - Search for Music
Free MP3 music downloads from many music websites and portals... [Read More]

» Yak Shavers Anonymous from Shanti Bergel's Blog
I do so love an insightful social dynamic with a catchy name. Yak Shaving, a term apparently inspired by Ren & Stimpy but coined by... [Read More]

» Hanging a Fixture from Filter & Splice
One stinkin' little tool was all that was holding up this project. I believe that Seth Godin would refer to this as "yak shaving." Suffice it to say . . . [Read More]

» Small World Moment: Shaved Yak gets caught in web! - Film at 11 from jeffchasin.com
I bet most people I know personally wouldnt know a Web 2.0, social networking, XMLHttpRequest object using web site if it jumped up and bit them in the tush. They think of the World Wide Web as Yahoo! News, or the pictures of the bab... [Read More]

« The Tolstoy Rule | Main | Treat different customers differently (part 2 of my visit to Apple) »