Iteration: how we get things done

Is iteration everything? Something like this:

  1. We decide on a goal.
  2. We take action.
  3. We assess the results.
  4. (A) We stop (because what we’ve achieved is good enough) OR
    (B) We continue (because we’re on the right track) OR
    (C) We try something else towards the same end (because what we’re trying isn’t working, or because in the act of trying we’ve worked out a better way) OR
    (D) We stop (because even though we’re not finished, we’ve reassessed our goal and decided to do something else.

It seems to me that iteration and recursion (repeating things at a finer level of detail to home in on the desired result) are how we do almost everything.

It’s true of how we catch a mosquito (decide, move, assess, decide, move, assess), how a guided missile intercepts a target, how we fix a motorbike, write a computer program or a curriculum, how we play games, wash dishes, mop floors, plan careers, drive cars, raise children, teach, learn, cook, draw, dance, converse, innovate, pursue pleasure, pursue religion, listen to music, garden, exercise, build a houses, tidy houses, socialise, plan holidays, treat illness, manage economies, write blogs.

I’m not sure if this means that we should be paying a lot more attention to how we iterate – be self aware, try to increase cycle speed in the important areas, talk about it with others – or if it’s so ubiquitous that this is effectively a non-observation, and we shouldn’t pay attention to it at all.

See also:

Build, measure, learn
Agile
Steve Blank: Definition of a Startup
Planning vs Pathfinding


I'd love to hear your thoughts and recommended resources...