Speed is Life: More is Better

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Speed is Life: More Is Better

Matt "Boom" Daniel Coopersburg, Pennsylvania, USA

“Speed is life: More is better” is a common rallying cry in the jet-fighter community. Imagine the participants and it is easy to hear, “Gotta go fast!” Right? “Everything must be done with immense speed!” Right? “Get there NOW, get away NOW!” Right?

There is no denying that in the daily flying life of fighter pilots, SPEED is a fundamental NEED. (Mav and Goose said so in the movie, Top Gun, so it must be true.)

But is it always true that Speed is life and More is better?

In a classic one-on-one dogfight* engagement, it is a viable tactic to go very slowly to minimize your turn radius. You turn in a circle with a smaller circumference, forcing your opponent to fly in a larger circle and end up in front of your aircraft so you have a better firing position. You "live inside his circle". This is true control, as both aircraft are flying at the speed of a major league fastball while executing this choreography.

Scientific studies, however, prove the advantage of optimal, rather than excessive, speed for specific moves, tactics, and delivery profiles. Optimal speed, not maximum speed is the goal. So, once specific needs or tactics are chosen, speed is only a key metric. But more important is how you choose to use that energy (speed).

Venturing outside of the fighter-pilot world; in business, does the first company to launch a new technology always win? If the goal is to have a survivable, relevant product or service, then the answer is, at best, a “Maybe”.

Being the first to market, (speed), may not matter at all in your organization’s business plan. The technology world is replete with examples of first-comers who washed out, or fell victim to too much focus on energy (speed), and not enough on energy management (applying that speed only when it served a business function).

Communications Satellites. Iridium (a global satellite phone technology) was outsold by easier, cheaper communication systems that became more accessible to the average person.

VCRs (Videocassette recorders). The Betamax recorder, developed before the Video Home System (VHS), was a superior product that was first to market. The technology became obsolete when the company refused to cross license their products, services, and spin-offs.

PDA’s (Personal Digital Assistant). Apple Computer’s Apple Newton digital assistant, although early to market, was ultimately surpassed in sales by the interactive Palm phones.

TV-to-Web. WebTV was an early, innovative product that used a television for a display rather than a computer monitor. It just never caught on.

Ask yourself, how do you as a software project manager balance speed to release with ensuring long-term relevance? What are the tools or practices you use to make sure that your new solution does not fall victim to obsolescence?

Do you have a Speed is life: More is better focus? Is it a strength, or is it a weakness? In your environment, what does speed represent? What does energy management mean to your project team?

  • Dogfight – In aviation history, a dogfight is a style of wartime aerial combat where two opposing forces engage in battles in the air. Emerging in World War I, dogfights between two planes were exchanges of gunfire and accompanying avoidance maneuvers.
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