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  • Writer's pictureGerry

Patience is a virtue (and a discipline)

I was reminded of a story yesterday about one of my favorite bands from my homeland, Scotland.

Billy MacKenzie and Alan Rankine were The Associates. Formed in Dundee in the 1970's.

In 1977 they wrote a song called Party Fears Two. A song they believed would be their big break. However the UK was in the grasp of the punk explosion, and so they decided the timing wasn't right. They were so sure that this was 'the song'! The post punk landscape didn't offer any better prospects for their composition. So they waited still. They released an album in 1980 on an indie label, and a further compilation album of A and B sides on a German label in 1981. Still they had the discipline to not include the track on either release.

Eventually as the New Romantic era ushered in a more electronic landscape, they demo'ed Party Fears Two with a couple of other tracks they had written. Within 3 weeks they were signed to a major label (Warner Bros/Beggars Banquet) and Party Fears Two went on to be their biggest hit in the UK, reaching #9 in the charts later that year.

Can you imagine the discipline of two working class young men, who knew they had written a hit, but were acutely aware that their market wasn't there yet, and to launch early would only guarantee the track was destined for the discount vinyl racks, if recorded at all. Patient and disciplined.

It got me thinking that in business we rarely exercise this discipline. We admire and exalt speed, even if it means we shortcut certain vital elements to hit dates that are manufactured and not based in any market reality. (That is not denying speed as a virtue either). I am merely advocating speed and 'right timing' are not always the same, and you should be clear which is which.

In my experience the challenge inevitably comes from the business need. 'We need' the new thing to replace a current weakness, or change in the business, and so the time pressure overrides any thought of the 'right time'!

Going too fast can also wreck the project/campaign/product, in that key elements are minimized or even eliminated altogether. Our desire to do something fast (and in some cases, just to do something) can override our desire to do something right, diminishing the chances of success.

In tech development, using MVP has a clear purpose. It's a way to gain feedback on what features/factors are more important than others, and where your next stage development should focus. It steers you away from trying to create the perfect product or experience, which gives you speed too. The major difference is you are clear on what you are launching in an MVP. You are clear that more work will be required. You are launching to find out which work is most important next.

How many campaigns/products/platforms have been launched effectively in MVP mode because of speed (and lack of discipline), but the expectation was more of a fully fledged offering. That is the main disconnect and the main lack of discipline.

The old maxim that 'all good things take time' seems relevant here too. The question is what factors are you considering in creating that timeframe?

And when it all comes down to 'how quickly can you.......', think about those two boys from Dundee, and replace that with 'when should we.....!!!

For those interested Party Fears Two is linked below:


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