Product Launch and the Pace of Your Business

When you attempt a fast-paced launch within a slow moving business, you’re asking for trouble.

Product Launch and the Pace of Your Business

Businesses, like people, tend to have a pace. Some businesses operate at a fast pace. Fast can be exhilarating or terrifying depending on your perspective. Some businesses operate at a slow pace. Slow can be exasperating or comforting. Consider that business cultures of technology companies that serve risk-averse markets often mirror the markets they serve (they are not all face-paced just because they are in tech). In the early, startup stages these companies can be very fast paced but over time settle into a pace reflective of their customers’ pace.

Who Sets the Pace of Your Business?

The pace of your business is set by the CEO.

Over time the people within the business settle into that pace in much the same way cars maintain the speed of other cars on a highway. Those who attempt to break away from the herd and exceed the pace are branded heretics (“It’s not the way we do things here. Slow down!”). Those who go slower than the herd are helped to overcome their deficiencies or worse their slower pace is accepted and slows the rest of herd.

How Far Can You Push?

A fast-paced business expects a fast-paced product launch; a slower-paced business not so much.

When launching a product it’s important to understand the pace of the business and plan accordingly. You may be in a position to push the boundaries somewhat, but unless you have the express approval from the top, be careful. The natural order of things will work against your well-intentioned efforts and frustrate you. While there may be individuals within your company encouraging you to pick up the pace and push harder, the business has its own inertia you have to work within.

Acknowledge Barriers to Success

As part of good product launch planning, it’s necessary to identify the barriers to success. Below are a set of questions to help you get started.

  • How long does it take us to get things done?
  • Where are the bottlenecks? Why?
  • Which functional areas or individuals will slow us down? Why?
  • Are we capable of executing within a timeframe that allows us to hit the market window?
  • Have we done this before?

As you build your product launch plan list the barriers to success (risks) so others are aware of organizational shortcomings.

Making it Work

Most CEOs want better performance from their teams and encourage employees to push the boundaries. Be realistic in where you can affect change and understand the source of bottlenecks.

As Dad would say, “Pick your battles wisely.”

Jim Semick

Jim Semick

Jim Semick is co-founder of ProductPlan, a leading provider of cloud-based roadmap software for product and marketing teams. For more than 15 years he has helped launch new products now generating hundreds of millions in revenue. He was part of the founding team at AppFolio, a vertical SaaS company. Prior to AppFolio, Jim validated and created version 1.0 product requirements for GoToMyPC and GoToMeeting (acquired by Citrix). Jim is a frequent speaker on product management and the process of discovering successful business models. He contributes at www.productplan.com/blog. Follow Jim on Twitter at @JimSemick.


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