Power of Iterative Progress

Software startups often talk about iterative improvement.  It’s a development model where by you focus on an easy to reach but minimally sustainable business model and then iteratively improve things and add features over time.

The process of getting to that first product release is perhaps the hardest thing to do.  It requires having a vision, and following through on it day after day without much validation until it’s finished enough to show and talk about it with people.  To build a team you need to convince them of the validity of your vision and get their buy-in to help you build this product.

Even with great effort it can be tempting to bulldoze something 80% complete.  There comes a time in this long slog of work that we naturally second guess the idea.  “Is it worth pursuing”, “Someone else released something similar before us”, “I think I have a better idea”.  This is a pattern I have fallen into for many of the projects I have started.

Giving up on an idea before that first launch is like a construction company building a school, getting to the point of hanging the blackboards on the walls and then deciding “Nah! We should have built a stadium! Tear it down!”

Getting something finished enough to put it on the market is just the first half of the work of making a viable business of of it.  After crossing that hurdle of getting it out there enough to attract users and customers is when you have to tackle another slew of concerns: customer relationships, sales, marketing, accounting, ROI, growth hacking.  But if you don’t make it to that point of launching something, then the rest of it will never exist and all the energy and effort you expended will have been wasted.

Iterative progress is the idea that if every day you continue to put one foot in front of the other and keep going in the same direction eventually you will have accomplished a great journey.  Even if some days you don’t want to walk, it’s just something you need to keep doing anyway.

Writing a book requires sitting down and writing hundreds of words per day, day after day, for months.  It is exhausting. It is frustrating at times. But if you give up before publishing, it’ll all be for nothing, nobody will read it.

Most, if not all, the successful people I have met have this trait. A stubborn focus forward on their vision. They can push a single idea for decades without wavering.  By shear persistence they eventually get out in front of the pack.  It’s something I hope to cultivate in my self, and hope to see more people develop.  The world needs more leaders with the strength and will to see their visions become reality.