Those of us within Generation X or at least on the latter edge of the Millenial generation know well the 1989 movie ‘Field of Dreams.’ In the movie, the Iowa farmer Ray Kinsella, played by Kevin Costner, hears a mysterious voice in his cornfield. The voice says “If you build it, he will come.”
After hearing the voice, Ray feels the need to act. Despite the taunts of lunacy, Ray builds a baseball diamond on his land, supported by his wife, Annie, played by Amy Madigan. Afterward, the ghosts of former great baseball players emerge from the corn crop to play ball, led by “Shoeless” Joe Jackson. Ray soon learns this field of dreams stands for more than bringing former baseball greats out to play.
The True Lesson
In building software or starting any new endeavor just like Ray in building his field of dreams, you may face taunts of lunacy. Potential investors and stakeholders may even quote the movie. They may jokingly ask “is your plan that if you build it, they will come?”
I argue that naysayers like those in the Field of Dreams or in real life miss the important lesson Ray makes in the movie. The point Ray tries to convey to his doubters is that if he doesn’t build it, ‘he’ will not come. Not only will ‘he’ not come, but the other dozens of historically famous baseball players and thousands of fans won’t come, either. At the time, Ray didn’t know who ‘he’ was. Ray acted upon faith trusting not taking action was the greatest risk of all.
Jeff Bezos’ Regret Minimization Framework
Jeff Bezos refers to this taking action in the face of doubt as to his Regret Minimization Framework. In using the Regret Minimization Framework. Bezos projects himself at age 80 years old and then looks back on his life. In doing this, he wants to minimize the number of regrets he has in his life at that time.
In using the Regret Minimization Framework, it serves to help Bezos make big decisions. He knew when he was 80, he was not going to regret participating in this thing called the Internet which he thought was going to be a big deal. He knew the one thing he would regret was not ever having tried. In using this framework, he felt it was a very easy decision to build and launch Amazon.com.
Launching Our Field of Dreams
Jarret Hamstreet, my co-founder, and I in building Post.Bid.Ship. experienced some of Ray’s tension. We both had just completed our MBAs and had nice job offers. Mine in Texas for a family office and Jarret’s in New Mexico for a private equity firm.
On the other side, we had a $30,000 investment check from the Dean of The University of Arizona Eller School of Business. Also, an Arizonian Venture Capitalist had just offered us office space. All of this happened after Jarret and I along with our classmate Cody Nicholls won the end of year business plan competition at McGuire Center for Entrepreneurship. The office, check and even more we’re waiting for us if only we launch. In the end, we channeled our Entrepreneurship Professor Jim Jendrick’s advice to not miss a golden opportunity to launch your idea and to implement Jeff Bezo’s Regret Minimization Framework. We decided to build it!
Would We Build It, Again?
Post.Bid.Ship. (and subsidiary TruckItNow spun out in 2016) by many, if not all measures, has been a success. While it hasn’t earned us private jet status or membership in the unicorn valuation club, Post.Bid.Ship. this year celebrates its 10th year anniversary. That metric in itself deserves accolades. The software we built is now incorporated in Oracle Software’s Transportation Management System. Fortune 500 companies use it to manage their bidding for commercial hauling. The company just released its 2nd generation of the platform building on the work Jarret and I started.
Jarret and I were asked once by an investor “If knowing everything you know today, would you build it, again?” Neither, Jarret nor I didn’t hesitate, the answer was ‘Yes!’
That answer has a lot in common with Ray in the Field of Dreams. Had Jarret and I not built Post.Bid.Ship., the investors, the clients, the Oracle integration, the accolades, the product, the experience, and, most importantly, the adventure would have not come.
Focus on Certainty
You see, even though the ghost whispered to Ray to ‘build it and he would come’, Ray heard the opposite. Ray knew if he didn’t build it, then Ray would never know who ‘he’ was. Ray also knew that ‘he’ would most definitely not come if Ray didn’t act. Spoiler Alert: In the movie, it turns out ‘he’ was Ray’s father.
Ray, you see, focused on the certainty and not the uncertainty. So many kids this important lesson. The certainty for Ray was that if he didn’t build it, ‘he’ won’t come. When it comes to Post.Bid.Ship., Jarret and I did build it, they did come and we have no regrets. So remember Ray’s true lesson from ‘The Field of Dreams’:
If you ‘don’t’ build it, they, most definitely, won’t come.
If you are interested in building your own product and don’t know where to start, learn more about the concept known as Minimal Viable Product (MVP). To read the article we wrote on the subject to help readers just like you, click here.
Good luck as you build your own Field of Dreams knowing that Jarret and I wish you the greatest of luck!