The perks of agile: reopen the startup way
What we can learn from startups on how to reopen and engage with the world again
As states begin to reopen and restrictions are lifted for businesses, people have different feelings towards how and when to do this. On one hand, many have been hospitalized or died from a virus that no one was prepared. On the other hand, while scientists and health experts worked to mitigate and prepare solutions, society was asked to shut down and stay in and the economy has been hit hard.
We went from one of the strongest economies to one of the highest unemployment rates in a matter of weeks. How do we balance protecting the health of humans while also protecting and building the economy back up? If we survive the coronavirus at the expense of everything else, what have we preserved, and how do we recover?
We can learn a few things from startups as we find out which path works best for us.
There’s an adage that says you’ll never know unless you start. Many successful entrepreneurs and startup founders have overcome the fear of beginning. If you focus only on having a perfect plan or product and wait too long, you may never launch and then you’ll never learn.
For this reason, many startups work towards a minimum viable product (MVP). This concept rests on the principle of collecting a customer’s interest in and need for a product with the least amount of effort.
It’s a sprint…
Products are built in iterations and each has a goal requirement that gets the product to be usable and achieve some purpose without the entire product being ready for market.
If you wait until a product is complete and fully ready, you run the risk of missing timing or miscalculation of the market’s need for such a product. But when working on a time-focused sprint or iteration, you have usable code that repeats and can be added to, tested, and reconfigured.
One of the great perks of building in iterations is that it allows for flexibility for any new needs or fixes that may arise. Instead of thinking of something post-development, you can change course much more easily during the next sprint.
And a beta…
I’m not talking about the fish. A beta test is one where you roll out your product to select customers or users to test once it has gone through internal quality assurance. The goal of betas is to find any bugs or differences in your hypothesis of what an end-user might want.
You can expect to find bugs during a beta that can be fixed or additional features that may be needed before the product can be released to the general public.
Things will never be completely flawless and perfect but that is why you test and collect feedback from as many users as possible.
How to reopen businesses
We gotta start somewhere. If we wait and never take the first step, we will never know. Just like waiting to launch a product or a startup, businesses will have to take precautions but test the waters.
Think of a sprint as each week or every two weeks building upon what was done previously. Maybe the first two weeks a business opens at 20% capacity and the following two weeks they can open at 40% capacity.
This reopening phase for America is the beta test of our lifetime.
We will of course discover “bugs” as we begin to reopen. Some states have experienced different exposure and spread. We need to monitor and use precautions, but we must start the first iteration.
Being agile and flexible during this period will help us come out stronger and better prepared. We must be smart, swift, and sensible, but we must start.