The Myth of Time-to-Market

I’ll start with the punchline:

Getting to market faster is not important at all.

Every company I have ever worked with in the past 15 years pressured the development staff to deliver functionality faster.  We need to get to market first!  Quicker!  4 months???  Make it 1!!!  It has been nearly universal.  I see it everywhere.  A ton of companies release products before they are ready.  This is especially true in SaaS software.

However, I have never in my life ever seen a product succeed or even have an advantage because it came to market first.  In fact, I can’t think of a single successful product that credits its success to being first.  Some examples of winning “followers” include: DOS, Windows, iPod, iPhone, Ford Model T, Timex, Dell, StarBucks, Prius, Salesforce and the list goes on forever.  None of these were the first.  They all won for other reasons, usually because they did it better, not faster.

This is the point: Deliver a product/service that WOWS your audience and you will get the advantage.  Have a better buying model (Salesforce) or a better partnership (DOS/Windows) or a better experience (Starbucks, iPod, iPhone) or a better price (Dell, Timex) or some other better advantage.

Lesson:  Don’t worry about this month or next month to deliver your next feature or product.  Worry about delivering it right and not cut corners.

Of course, there is also the point of view that products that NEVER ship will never win.  This is true.  However, no one is suggesting you never ever ship.  I’m suggesting you take the extra month or two to do things right.

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