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Bruce Mau's Moonshots

How do you begin tackling big projects that take on messy, undefined problems? Here are Bruce Mau's first three moves for embarking on what he calls "man-on-the-moon missions."

Avoid Analysis Paralysis

Rather than spend an inordinate amount of time on research, Mau will launch a project even when he has just a 10% understanding of what it actually entails. He might have more questions than answers, but he knows the answers will come when he prototypes the idea and gets feedback from the client.

Question Every Decision

Learn-as-you-go projects require you to continually evaluate your assumptions. Because you lack knowledge to guide your decisions, you must be brave enough to ask stupid questions. Says Mau: "I'm absolutely comfortable admitting that I don't understand something."

Bring in the Outliers

To build the project that became "Massive Change," Mau tapped outside talent — 14 students with wildly different backgrounds. Their unfamiliarity with Mau's design process freed them to challenge his thinking.

A version of this article appeared in the June 2005 issue of Fast Company magazine.