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Mar 27, 2024
7 min read

Why Does the Speed of Execution Matter?

Learn, execute, and adapt at lightning speed: PoC → Prototype → MVP

Once, Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President of the US, said:

Things may come to those who wait, but only the things left by those who hustle.

Even if he wasn’t referring to businesses and startups, one thing is clear: the speed of execution is one of the most crucial success factors in business (if not the most).

Speed of execution can make or break a startup.

When founders or product managers delay the launch of their product or idea, they risk losing their competitive edge and missing out on valuable opportunities. “Valuable opportunities” can be understood as the loss of market share to the competition, loss of trust, clients, and investors’ money.

Let me share why I truly believe that agility and the ability to develop products/services quickly is the single most important factor while running a business of any size.

Plus some bonus tips at the end ;)

It doesn’t matter whether you’re just starting out or have 1,000,000+ customers.

What is Speed of Execution?

In simple terms, Speed of Execution is the ability to quickly and efficiently implement plans, ideas, and decisions. It’s not only about working fast but also about working smart. In my eyes, there are three core components that shape the perfect setup for rapid execution:

  1. Effective Planning (clearly defined scopes and responsibilities, along with a clear execution plan)
  2. Clear Communication (eliminating the chain of commands from one manager to another)
  3. Efficient Processes (which can be derived from clear communication)

If you don’t believe me, you should at least consider the perspective of Mr. Musk, as evident in his leaked email from April 17, 2018, to all Tesla employees.

Elon Musk's leaked Email to Tesla employees

In general, always pick common sense as your guide.

- Elon Musk

But what is the best and most efficient way to learn, execute, and adapt at lightning speed?

The answer is quite straightforward: Proof of Concept (PoC)PrototypeMinimum Viable Product (MVP)

It’s much more than just industry jargon – all of these terms are the foundational bricks that anchor any successful digital (and not only) product.

What Are the Differences Between PoC, Prototype, and MVP?

To make it clear, each of the stages answers one of the following questions:

  • Proof of Concept: Can this concept work in the practical world?
  • Prototype: Can this concept be expanded into a more usable form and fill gaps in a flow?
  • Minimum Viable Product: Should this product/service be built, and is there a market for it?

In more details, here’s a complete overview of all the concepts at a glance:

GoalProve technical feasibilityDemonstrate business conceptValidate an idea and find a product-market fit based on real end-user feedback
Development Time3-5 days2-4 weeks1+ months
AudienceResearchers, developersStakeholders, investors, focus groupsEarly adopters and investors
Use CaseTest technical aspectsFill gaps in a flow, pitch the product ideaLook for market fit by assessing user feedback and get more funding
Risk EvaluationReduces risk of technical problemsReduces risk of user dissatisfactionReduces risk of building a product with no market
InvestmentSmall budgetMedium budgetWell-defined budget
RevenueNot for saleNot for sale, generates further investmentSells to early adopters, generates investment
Further UseTechnical prototype or MVP developmentMVP developmentFull-fledged product development

The PoC can be viewed as an initial step in the development journey of a product or service. Typically, it takes a few days to a week (depending on complexity) to answer whether a concept can really work in the real world.

Once the idea is internally validated and approved by stakeholders and investors, the next phase is prototype development, which usually spans 2-4 weeks. This phase is where design becomes a focal point. Prototypes are not concerned with functionality and advanced features; rather, they are exclusively about user experience. They present the overall flow and user journey, functioning as an “interactive demo” for stakeholders to engage with.

Next comes the MVP, the cherry on top. With the insights gained from PoC and prototype development, it’s time to move into MVP development. Think of the MVP as the core, basic version of your product. The primary goal here is to test the market and assess whether there is sufficient value for early adopters. Typically, the MVP is released to a specific segment of the target audience to actively solicit feedback. On average, developing an MVP can take anywhere from 1 to 6 months, depending on complexity and available resources.

Tips & Takeaways

To summarize, here’s my approach for achieving the fastest execution possible and getting things done (quickly):

  1. If you want to test something revolutionary (like smartphones or music streaming in their early days), clearly define the key objectives and plunge into PoC development. It might take longer than usual, but this is how you ensure that your foundational, revolutionary idea is feasible.

  2. If you’re looking to improve something that already exists (like updating an app’s design or adding new “filtering” functionality), begin with a Prototype. This allows key potential users to visualize and give valuable feedback on new features.

  3. If your idea has been validated, you’ve received feedback, but you’re uncertain about launching a new product to all your customers, introduce an MVP. By launching a basic version of some novel functionality to a subset of your audience or customers, you can start small without heavily investing in development while still garnering real-world feedback. This allows you to iterate on the MVP and perfect it for a broader release.

All of this might sound quite complex. I know. Particularly if you’re considering launching some “add-ons” or “extensions” to your core product.

However, there’s good news!

By leveraging modern technologies such as Generative AI systems, Big Data Analytics, and Machine Learning, you can enhance your execution speed, streamline the majority of your processes, and bring your execution speed to a whole new F#REAKING level.

A few advantages include:

  • Automation of repetitive tasks (documentation & code generation, testing, data entry, etc.)
  • Rapid Prototyping (turn ideas into models into simulations quickly)
  • Efficient Resource Management (optimizing resource allocation by predicting specific project/product needs)

Make good decisions. Act on the decisions that you make. And act right away.

Stay safe!