Accomplish More.
Juggle Less.
Everything you need to transform your work.

Chick-fil-A's David Farmer on Prototyping & Piloting New Ideas – How & When To Do It

Focus can multiply the impact of an organization’s efforts. However, distractions divide and diffuse impact. One of the most significant sources of distractions in most small businesses is us — the leaders. 

It’s in our nature to see all of the things that can be improved and all of the trends we need to capitalize on, but it’s on us to keep our team focused on the main thing. Luckily, some strategies allow us to explore the possibilities without derailing our team. 

In this episode of One Next Step, we’ll be learning how and when to prototype and pilot new ideas before launching them. Our guest is David Farmer, the Vice President of Restaurant Experience at Chick-fil-A — the third-largest restaurant chain in America.


Here are some takeaways he shared:


1. Place a few big bets.

Continuous improvement is essential, but it’s not enough. 

You’re making modifications to your business today to win in the current business landscape. Unfortunately, the market is always changing, which means your improvements today and could be obsolete in a year. 

To ensure your organization is ready for what’s to come, you’ll need to strategically place a few big bets on where you see the market going so you can begin preparing yourself and your organization to meet your customers’ future needs.

2. Create a culture of innovation.

The future of your organization can be cultivated by more than the leader of the team. However, it’s hard to maximize contributions from the team when every new idea or solution is developed by chance. 

It’s impractical to wait for the right idea to be shared at the right time by the right person so the right decision-maker will hear it. Serendipity isn’t a strategy. 

Use or create a process for innovation that safeguards the organization from overly diffusing resources, decentralizes creativity to engage the entire team and continually prepares the organization for the future.

3. Think big and start small.

Developing expensive, near-complete versions of our ideas and solutions often skews our perspective as leaders. We think about all the money and hours our organization spent on the idea, and we become more invested in the idea than the outcome. 

To reduce risk, prototype your ideas first in the simplest, fastest and cheapest way possible. 

Surprisingly, by limiting your financial and time investment, you’ll also limit your emotional investment and empower yourself to make better decisions.

4. Require feedback.

As leaders, we’ve spent our career refining our intuition. However, our instincts are most useful in situations similar to something we’ve experienced before. 

The focus of innovation is doing something new, something your organization has never done before. So, if you want to trust your gut, do it while you’re developing your prototype. 

After that, require feedback from your team and, most importantly, your customers. The only way to verify if your solution works is to let the people who buy it use or experience it.


David’s eBook, The Launch Book, is a  proven process that has helped the world’s most successful organizations effectively launch new ideas. This simplifies and organizes these principles so leaders at every level, in any situation, can more consistently get their ideas off the ground.