In my first year in the university, I read two books – Vincent Peale’s The Power of Positive Thinking and Napoleon Hill’s Think and Grow Rich. Both books did not diverge from what I had learnt from the Church coming into the university: discipline, focus and ACTION would always triumph. By reading these men, it was evident that being talented is not just enough; you need to have the capacity to stay focused and then take action to execute any mission.
A senior student from my village had asked all entering students to read the books. First, he wanted us to have a positive attitude to anything FUTO (the university) was going to throw at us, and secondly, he wanted to challenge our discipline level that it was normal to wake up at 3am for a class starting at 9am if you desire to hear the professor! As he spoke to us in the village association chapter in the school, he repeated discipline many times. That discipline was time management – the capacity to have the control to focus on the important things.
As we know, the person that (sometimes) comes first in a class is not always the most academically talented. It could be that he/she has put more efforts than even those that are more talented. The lesson here is that skill and gifts are not enough, you need to have the capacity to stay focus and then take necessary action to execute any mission you have.
Tenacity is critical because without it, any mission could be lost. In business, I have come to understand that one of the most important skills is the capacity to do the best possible job at the shortest time possible on something with the highest impact. Yes, everything must be bounded by time because without that time consciousness you will not make progress. The world will not wait for you – you have to fit into the world as defined by 24 hours in a day.
Few months ago, someone asked me to help make a case before a Lagos bank CEO on a project. I spoke with the big man, and he noted that he would like to see a proposal. I passed the message to my guy, expecting a proposal within at most 48 hours. Ten days went and on the 13th day, I received something. Unfortunately, the “excellent” proposal was defective: it expired on arrival. He might have done better with 70% quality of the final product if he had submitted within 24 hours. The bank had moved on: bank CEOs work on hours and not on weeks! That explains why Facebook has in its employment handbook: the Quick Shall Inherit the Earth. Simply, time matters.
For digital startups, for anything you do, develop a good habit of working fast. It does not have to be absolutely perfect, but it needs to be done fast. Sure, there are exceptions on when you need to commit more than necessary time to get something perfect. Yet, even in those moments, your time investment cannot be unbounded.
My point is that mastering how to work fast will take your far. The key in this age is the Minimum Viable Quality and that means you cannot wait for a completely 100% perfect product to launch. If you launch after you have attained that MVQ, your customers will help in shaping the path to the “perfect product”.
The deal is this: the construct of quality has no meaning until the price of the product is put into considerations. I always ask entrepreneurs to build for the Minimum Viable Quality (MVQ) bounded by the product target price which market will respond. You can build rockets to fly around the world: that is an engineering possibility. But does that make a business sense if no one can afford it? Ask the makers of Concorde for answers
No product is perfect and you can never launch a perfect product – you just need to launch a product which has attained an MVQ. The implication is to understand that you need to get something out and then continue to evolve the product. They are still working on Google Search and that will continue for decades as long as Google remains in business.