In our professional lives, we often find ourselves launching something new. It could be a new product, service, ad campaign, recipe, geographic expansion, process overhaul, sales contest, or even an internal cultural shift. No matter what you're launching, you have a choice to make: Dip your toe in the water slowly, or go big.
Instinctively, the bashful approach feels less risky. Embrace a little change and see how it goes, right? We've been taught the need to "walk before you run" so we're practically hardwired to play small. But in the words of former British Prime Minister David Lloyd George, "You can't cross a chasm in two small steps."
While it may feel scary, taking the big leap may actually be less risky. Playing it 'safe' can have the opposite impact whereby not enough force can cause your launch to crash and burn. In our fiercely competitive marketplace, there's little room for timid alternatives.
Netflix is a stunning example of playing big. When the company shifted from movie rentals to original programming, they faced the same choice. Conventional wisdom would suggest starting small, perhaps doing a couple low budget productions to get some practice and see if customers even want original programming. Instead, Netflix roared onto the scene with House of Cards, featuring A-list actors and reportedly costing over $4 million per episode to produce. Next came Orange is the New Black, another bold leap that has gone on to win countless awards. With a string of high-budget, unconventional programming ranging from Kimmy Schmidt to Making a Murderer, Netflix was able to reach cult-like status in record time.
If you were to hear a description of a new TV program and were told it was launching on one of the traditional networks, you may opt out. But if the same description is tied to a new Netflix launch, it becomes irresistible. Because of their commitment to the highest quality and a refusal to cut corners, they have been able to leapfrog established competitors as one of the top producers of original content in the world.
Netflix won by going big. Had they risked only a fraction of their investment, they probably would have lost it all. The company continued this strategy on January 6 when they launched internationally in 130 new countries on the same day. The smart folks at Netflix realized that going all-in is the only way to play the game.
As you embark on your next new initiative, consider the real risk of a half-hearted launch. The brands we cherish are the ones that broke free, pioneered new ground, stood tall for their beliefs, and set out to shatter the mold. Launch big and launch proud. You'll reduce risk and enjoy far more upside. Netflix isn't the only one that can stream breathtaking ideas around the world. You're next.