What is a good model to use when setting out on a new project or venture?
Is it to design for size from the very beginning – to plan for scale and explosive growth?
Or is it better to start small and build on little victories?
The answer, as in most cases, will be it depends.
The approach we take is contingent on the situation – what the environment around us looks like, what capabilities we have, the resources we can muster and what moves other players are making.
The challenge is that we don’t know what works.
If we look around at examples of what has worked, we see survivors – firms, systems and people that dominate the economy.
That doesn’t mean that how they did it was the right way – it means that the way they did it was right for their time and they were lucky.
It also doesn’t mean that they will continue to survive.
Size brings with it problems – the dinosaurs were perfectly adapted to their conditions until the conditions changed, and they couldn’t change quickly enough.
Viruses, on the other hand, may have been around since the dawn of life – and continue to spread and replicate themselves.
A often quoted post talks about this in the context of software design.
A good software solution needs to be simple, correct, consistent and complete.
The right way to design it to solve a problem completely, implement it on the right platform, use the right tools and maintain it in the right way.
Or we can get half of it working and available, get people using it, get them hooked and then worry about making it better.
Keeping it simple is the most important thing. It needs to be correct as far as we can see. Consistency and completeness are nice to have, but they can be sacrificed in the interests of keeping thing simple.
In addition, the fewer things we have, the less effort it is to be consistent or complete.
For many of us, then, it comes down to a personal world view.
Some of us will be comfortable with the idea of a large project, a big plan and the will to go with the big win.
Others will prefer small, even austere approaches.
In an ecosystem – there is place for both types of creatures.
It is the same with markets.