Recently I read Jonathan Smart’s blog about achieving big goals and dramatically improving throughput to achieve more reliable successes. One phrase stuck with me, “Achieve big through small.” I’m hijacking it for this blog. Actually, I’m hijacking it as my motto.
As a company and as a team, our lives at EastBanc Technologies have always been about tackling the biggest problems for the biggest organizations. This includes the largest company in the world, Saudi Aramco. Over the years, achieving big through small has essentially become our mantra. It’s in the DNA of our senior software developers.
Often, when a prospective customer or partner comes to us with a big problem to solve, our team is really great at destroying big revenue opportunities. How? They push our clients to focus on the one killer functionality, feature or prediction that will have the biggest impact. Instead of tackling the whole problem, they break it down and suggest starting small. The client commits too much less, minimizing their risk, and only moves to the next stage once initial expectations have been met.
The end result of this first step of big problem solving is the smallest possible effort. We create a minimal viable product or prediction (MVP). If needed, we deliver a true proof of concept (POC) which focuses exclusively on conceptualizing and proving the unknowns of the MVP.
To paraphrase Donald Rumsfeld, our POCs don’t focus on known knowns, they conceptualize and prove the known unknowns, and help us discover the unknown unknowns.
Hence, we call it a discovery phase. This discovery phase, purposefully budget-boxed and time-boxed, ensures that we don’t accidentally try to solve the bigger problem. Focusing on the MVP requires true discipline. It’s tempting to branch out to answer related questions (the dreaded scope creep)! It bears its fruits, however, as it minimizes the risk and the needed leap of faith required to build trust between the customer, partner and us. And it ensures that we all can very quickly come to a go/no-go decision on tackling the bigger topic.
Achieving big through small is exactly what we’re doing. Thus, it’s my new motto.
As for the reduced revenue… ultimately a longer-term engagement often leads to much larger revenue opportunities for the company. We’ve found that when the likelihood of failure is dramatically reduced with an MVP approach, customer trust and faith increase and they return again and again.