StartUp Founders: Control Your Clock Speed (Release Velocity)

December 14, 2022 3 mins read

In the journey of establishing a startup, there are numerous variables that, as a founder, you simply cannot control. However, there is one fundamental aspect that lies within your purview, and that’s your “clock speed.”

The term “clock speed” in this context signifies the speed at which you can go through a product’s lifecycle – from release to feedback, understanding that feedback, iterating the product based on those insights, and re-releasing it to the market. Experienced entrepreneurs, those who have navigated the precarious terrain of launching and scaling successful businesses, emphasize the importance of optimizing this clock speed. They recognize that the faster you can iterate and the more learnings you glean, the likelier your product is to reach its desired state.

The process of building a product, releasing it, and finding out it doesn’t meet market expectations is a daunting one. Imagine spending half a year crafting something you believe in, only to discover that it’s the wrong solution for your audience. Compare this to a scenario where you spend 45 days on each iteration cycle, constantly evolving your product. Which approach do you think will provide more value and insight? Which one is likelier to bring you closer to product-market fit, or product-market-price fit? Undoubtedly, it’s through a rapid iteration loop, or what some call the OODA loop (observe, orient, decide, act), where you’re likely to gain more.

To quote Steve Blank, recognized for developing the customer development method that birthed the lean startup movement, “No business plan survives first contact with customers.” It underscores the importance of quick iterations and the constant feedback loop in finding a product that truly resonates with the market.

But let’s be clear – increasing your clock speed isn’t without its set of requirements. First, your organization needs to possess the technical capabilities to quickly release products and updates. Your engineering release cycle, what it takes to get through the pipeline technically, will be a determinant here.

Second, the pace at which you gather insights from your customers plays a vital role. The use of tools, interviews, and direct conversations will influence this. How rapidly can you take this learning and turn it into something usable and advantageous?

Finally, the speed at which you can translate those insights into an iterative capability or an adjustment in your product to meet the market’s need is crucial.

In the end, mastering your clock speed can indeed provide a competitive edge and increase your chances of winning in the marketplace. And as you embark on this path, remember that it’s not about perfection but progress. Good luck.

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