How Do You Know When You Have a Winner?

Is it at first blush? Do the initial reviews tell the story? Usually not. Instead, patience, endurance, experimentation, (build-measure-learn) are your prescription. In current parlance we call this the “Lean Startup” approach. Take one Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky and his iconic ballet, “The Nutcracker.”The original performance (let’s call it the MVP) premiered 127 years ago today. Was it a blinding success? Hardly. In a letter to a friend Tchaikovsky wrote “in spite of all the sumptuousness it did turn out to be rather boring.” He thought little of it, describing it as “infinitely worse than Sleeping Beauty.” Critics were mixed using words like “insipid”, “disorderly”, and “amateurish” but also “charming” and “astonishingly rich.”Changes were tried, eliminating the Sugar Plum Fairy, using adults instead of children, abridging the production. Learning from these “experiments” the final version we see today started to take shape. The real success of the program came when George Ballanchine put the history and the vision into one overarching storyline adored by the audience and artists alike.

Today the Nutcracker is arguably the most recognized and most performed ballet of all time.

Related: How to Create an Entrepreneur for Life