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5 Business Lessons from Watching MythBusters

5 Business Lessons from Watching MythBusters

Mythbusters panel at ComicCon. CC Photo courtesy of tsmall

Sharlyn Lauby | HR Bartender

Mr. Bartender and I really enjoy the show MythBusters on the Discovery Channel. If you’re not familiar with it, two special effects experts – Jamie Hyneman and Adam Savage – recreate “myths” (read: urban legends, Hollywood effects, idioms, stuff) to see if they are true or not. To give you a flavor of the show, some of the things they’ve tested include:

• What happens when you put a real live bull in a china shop?

• Which is worse – driving while drunk or while using your cell phone?

• How far does snot travel when you sneeze?

They recently compiled a Top 25 Myth Moments which reminded me of the business takeaways you can get while watching the show.

1. Don’t overthink stuff. While the show gets into engineering and science, the hosts often realize that the key to recreating the situation is to use the simplest approach. Why? Because fewer things can go wrong. It’s the same in business, sometimes we add rules that are unnecessary or cause more confusion. There’s something to be said about keeping things simple and adding layers only as it becomes necessary.

2. Mistakes are fine as long as you don’t repeat them. Not everything on the show goes as planned. Just like in real life. When something goes kablooey, you have to step back, evaluate what transpired and develop a new course of action. As long as you’re not making the same mistakes over and over, then you’re learning from them. And that’s what success is all about.

3. Customer feedback can create a bigger win. MythBusters has gained quite a following over the seven years they’ve been on the air. As such, they get lots of fan mail. Fans asking them to test a certain myth…or telling them their original test was wrong. Instead of playing the expert card and saying their test was correct, they often go back and retest using the fan’s recommendation. Sometimes if they get a lot of mail regarding a particular myth, they will devote an entire show to fan letters.

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