Jim Collins on Bullets before Cannonballs

“Shoot bullets before cannon balls.” Jim Collins

Foolish leaders rely on cannonballs. Wise leaders shoot bullets first.

bullets before cannonballs

During difficult times foolish leaders look for big solutions, giant leaps, and dramatic success.

Wise leaders take small steps before making giant leaps.

Shoot bullets:

Bullets are miniature cannonballs. They’re inexpensive, easy to make, and easy to shoot. Outcomes are obvious.

Test your assumptions by shooting bullets.

Difficult times motivate desperate leaders to act on untested assumptions. Wise leaders test idea and assumptions in low risk, low cost way.

Try something in a small way and brutally evaluate when it’s over.

  1. What worked?
  2. What fell short?
  3. What cost too much, even if it worked?

Fire cannonballs:

After testing, evaluation, and adaptation, load the cannon and take your best shot with your best resources. Reach for the greatest result but only after shooting bullets.

How can leaders effectively shoot bullets?

What questions help leaders evaluate the bullet they shoot.